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Honlron ..... Waterloo Place 

^Xt^Xt ..... High Street 

Camtrtl^ge ..... Trinity street 













lontion, %{ot)l, antr Cambtttse 


JS,. / 







Dear Mr. Gladstone, 

The real points at issue in the controversy on 
the Athanasian Creed have been so overlaid with irre- 
levant matter that it is not easy for the public at 
large to understand the exact position of the quiestion. 
No doubt the debate in the Lower House of Convocation 
is well calculated to clear away a cloud of misappre- 
hensions and errors on the subject. But the meagre 
reports of the debate that have been published in the 
secular press are worse than useless for that purpose, 
and the one or two Church papers which have given 
full reports are read by a comparatively select portion 
of the community. Something is still needed to place 
the question in its true bearings before the public 
mind, and the lull that is likely to follow the recent 
somewhat stormy discussion seems to offer a favourable 
opportimity to anyone who will venture to make the 
attempt. A great deal has been done already in this 
way by Mr. Brewer ; but his two able Essays are con- 
fined chiefly, though not entirely, to the historical 
aspect of the question, and are addressed rather to the 
learned than to the popular mind. There is still room 
for a popular exposition of the true import of the Creed 
— popular at least so far as this, that nothing more 



than a very moderate education is required to follow 
the argument. 

I trust that some one more competent than myseK 
will apply his mind to the subject. In the mean- 
time I ofifer the following pages as a humble contri- 
bution to so desirable an undertaking, and I have 
asked your kind permission to address them to you for 
two reasons : first, because the retention of the Atha- 
nasian Creed in the public service of the Church is 
alleged to be especially a layman's grievance ; and 
secondly, because the question has an important political 
side to it in which statesmen can hardly fail to be 
interested. For it is now clear beyond all possibility 
of doubt, that a successful attempt either to mutilate 
the Creed or to degrade it from the position which it 
now occupies in the Prayer Book would have the effect 
of causing such a rent in the Church of England as 
would make the triumph of the Liberation Society a 
question of time, and of a very short time too. About 
thirty years ago Dr. Newman, in a letter to the late 
lamented Mr. Archer Butler, expressed his conviction 
that " our Church covXdi, do anything* humanly speak- 
ing, if it knew its own strength, and if its members 
were at peace with each other." These words are true 
to-day. It is not the schemes of the Liberation Society 
which we have to fear, but the intestine strife which 

* The italics are not mine. 

k^^i . -»k ■"> 


reigns within our own borders ; and no smaU part of 
this strife arises, I believe, from our mutual misundei> 
standing of each other. " Half the controversies in the 
world," says the same writer,* "are verbal ones, and 
could they be brought to a plain issue they would be 
brought to a prompt termination. Parties engaged in 
them would then perceive either that in substance 
they agreed together, or that their diflFerence was one 
of first principles. This is the great object to be aimed 
at in the present age, though confessedly a very 
arduous one. We need not dispute, we need not prove, 
— we need but to define. At all events let us, if we 
can, do this first of all, and then see who are left for us 
to dispute with, what is left for us to prove. Con- 
troversy, at least in this age, does not lie between the 
hosts of heaven, Michael and his angels on the one 
side, and the powers of evil on the other ; but it is a 
sort of night battle, where each fights for himself, and 
friend and foe stand together. When men understand 
what each other means, they see, for the most part, that 
controversy is either superfluous or hopeless." 

It is impossible to read the Athanasian Creed debate 
in Convocation without recognizing the truth so felici- 
tously expressed by Dr. Newman in this passage. It 
is, indeed, "a sort of night battle" where friends and foes 
are often mingled, and in which the combatants are 

♦ * University Sermons,' p. 192. 

B 2 



evidently either agreed in substance, or reason from 
premisses which are in their nature irreconcilable. 
The first thing that must be done, therefore, is to rid 
the question of all issues which are plainly irrelevant. 

CJonspicuous amongst these is the authorship of the 
Athanasian Greed, which has been pushed to the front 
in recent discussions on the subject, but which has 
really nothing to do with the question. " The single 
practical question," as the Bishop of St. David's truly 
observed,* " is this : whether we are or are not to con- 
tinue the use of the Athanasian Greed in the public 
services of the Church ; and I hold that with regard 
to this it is almost absurdly irrelevant to dwell on 
the authorship of the Greed. For my own part, I 
would say that if I were as firmly convinced that 
every syllable came from the pen of St. Athanasius as 
I am persuaded of the contrary, that would not in the 
slightest degree affect my objection to the continued 
use of the Greed in the services of the Church."t On 
the other hand, those who uphold the present position 
of the Creed would not be the least affected by the 
discovery that every word was composed centuries after 
St. Athanasius had slept with his fathers.^ They 

• See * Guardian,' Febraary 14, p. 208. 

t Speech in Convocation. See * Guardian ' of February 14, 1872. 

X What, by the way, is the Dean of Westminster's authority for 
asserting ("The Athanasian Creed,' p. 83) that ''the Creed was 
received and enforced when it was believed to be 'the Creed of 



regard the authorship of the Creed as a question of 
considerable literary interest, but of no practical im- 
portance whatever. So that if Mr. Ffoulkes's argument 
were as conclusive as it is manifestly and egregiously 
inconclusive, the Athanasian Creed would still rest on 
the prescriptive authority of Christendom for upwards 
of a thousand years. 

Equally irrelevant with the authorship of the 
Athanasian Creed, as it appears to me, is the question 
of testing the accuracy of its text by the evidence of 
ancient manuscripts. In the case of Holy Scripture 

for the Church is but " the keeper of Holy Writ," and 
even an CEcumenical Council would have no authority 
to retain in the inspired Canon any passage that was 
clearly proved to be an interpolation. But the case 
of a Creed is altogether different If the original 
manuscript of the Athanasian Creed were discovered, 
and were found to differ widely from the received text, 
it would not at all follow that the Creed ought to be 
amended into harmony with the manuscript. The 
Church accepts or rejects a disputed verse in the Bible 
on the ground of its being or not being an integral 
part of the original record; that consideration, and 
that only, suffices to decide the matter. But the 

St. Athanasius '" ? Is there any evidence to show that the com- 
pilers of the Prayer Book enjoined the use of the Athanasian Creed 
because they believed it to have been composed by St. Athanasius ? 


Churcli sanctions a Creed on the ground of its express- 
ing her mind on the points with which it deals. And 
therefore if she takes up a form of words, and autho- 
rizes their use as a confession of faith, what matters it 
whether that form of words is, or is not, in agreement 
with ancient manuscripts? All that we have to 
consider is whether it is in truth the Creed which the 
Church has sanctioned. Grant, for the sake of argu- 
ment, that it has been altered and enlarged. What 
then? So has the Apostles' Creed. Yet who would 
Tenture to propose any mutilation of the latter on the 
ground of ^ its present form differing from some newly- 
discovered manuscript ? 

But we are told that the Athanasian Creed does not 
rest on Church authority at all, inasmuch as it has 
never received the sanction of a General Council. Are 
we to understand that all who object to the Creed 
would be satisfied if it could be proved to rest on the 
authority of a General Council ? If they would not, 
the objection is not a sincere one ; it is merely an 
argumentum ad hominem, intended to damage their 
opponents, but having no value in the eyes of those 
who use it. I am far from saying that arguments 
ad hominem are inadmissible in controversy ; but in a 
discussion of this solenm nature it would certainly be 
convenient if writers on either side would restrict them- 
selves as much as possible to arguments of which they 
would admit the force if they were used against them* 


But, after all, it does not follow that the Athanasian 
Creed is deficient in authority because it lacks the 
direct sanction of a General Council. That argument 
would prove too much. It would be as fatal to the 
Apostles' as to the Athanasian Creed, and would even 
invalidate the authority of some parts of Holy 
Scripture. For the Bible, though appealed to in a 
general way, has never received the imprimaiv/ir of an 
OBcumeniced Council book by book. General Councils 
meet for the purpose of condemning errors or settling 
disputed points ; but it would be superfluous to call a 
General Council for the purpose of authorizing admitted 
truths and sanctioning points which were not disputed. 
If the Athanasian Creed were really so contrary to the 
spirit of the Gospel as its opponents would have us 
believe, we may be very sure that the mind of the 
Church would long ago have been declared against it 

Another argfument a&:ain8t the Athanasian Creed is 
80 extraordinLy that I must quote it in the very 
words of one of its sponsors. " The recitation of this 
Greed," says the present Dean of Canterbury, " is a 
violation of Church principles, and condenmed in the 
severest terms by the highest ecclesiastical authority. 
For the Church -of England professes to receive the 
four first General Councils as next in authority to 
Holy Scripture, and accordingly the bishops of the 
whole Anglican Communion at the recent Lambeth 
Conference affirmed that they received the faith as 


defined by these Councils. But the Council of Con- 
stantinople in its seventh canon, and that of Chalcedon 
in the Definition of the Faith appended to its Acts, 
expressly forbid ' the composing, exhibiting, producing, 
or teaching of any other Creed.' For this they give a 
sufficient reason, namely, that the Nicene Creed, as 
finally settled at Constantinople, * teaches completely 
the perfect doctrine concerning the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost, and fully explains the Incarna- 
tion of the Lord.' To guard more carefully against 
the imposition of new Creeds, they command that every 
bishop or clergyman so offending should be deposed^ 
and every layman anathematized." 

The first remark I have to make on this singular 
argument is that, if it can be proved to be valid, all the 
bishops and clergy of the Church of England, including 
Dr. Payne Smith, ought to be instantly deposed, " and 
every layman anathematized;" and this, not merely 
for using the Athanasian Creed, but for the additional 
offence of using the Constantinopolitan Creed, as they 
always do in the Communion Service. For it so happens 
that the Third General Council, that of Ephesus, pro- 
hibited the use of any other Creed than that of Nic«ea 
in terms as stringent and peremptory as those in which 
the Fourth Council prohibited any other Creed than 
that of Constantinople. 

The Ephesine fathers "decreed that it should be 
unlawful for any man to propose, or subscribe, or make 


any other Creed, "bui, what had been resolved upon hy the 
holy fathers assembled at Nice, with the Holy Ghost." 
And they went on to add that " they who dare to com- 
pose another Creed, or to introduce it, or offer it to 
them who are disposed to be converted to the know- 
ledge of the truth from heathenism or Judaism, or any 
heresy whatsoever, should be deposed, if bishops, from 
the Episcopate ; if priests, from the priesthood ; and if 
laymen, that they should be anathematized." 

It is not, I repeat, " the Nicene Creed as settled at 
Constantinople," but the Nicene Creed as settled at 
Nicaea, which is fenced round with these terrible safe- 
guards. There is no room for doubt on this point, for 
the Nicene Creed, properly so called, is not only ex- 
pressly mentioned in the canon, but is quoted at full 
length without the additions made to it by the Council 
of Constantinople in 381. If therefore the Dean of 
Canterbury's argument holds good, we are lajided in 
this pleasant dilemma: we come under the anathema of 
the Council of Chalcedon for using " any other Creed 
than " the Nicene Creed as settled at Constantinople, 
and we come under the anathema of the Coimcil of 
Ephesus for using " any other Creed " than the " Nicene 
Creed as " not "settled at Constantinople."* 

♦ Another inference from Dr. Payne Smith's argument is, that 
the anathemas which were appended to the original Nicene Greed 
ought to be still appended to it. If the prohibition against the use 
of " any other Creed " is directed against any expansion of the Creed, 



Surely an argument which involves a rediidio ad 
ahmrdum of so glaring a character as this refutes itself, 
and the wonder is that two Deans, who have filled re- 
spectively the Begins chairs of Divinity and Ecclesias- 
tical History in the University of Oxford, should have 
committed themselves to so transparent a sophism. It 
is obvious that by the phrase " any other Creed " is not 
meant any orthodox addition to the Creed, either of 
Nicflea or Constantinople, but any different Creed — dif- 
ferent in the sense of containing alien doctrine. Thie 
fathers of the Ephesine Council meant precisely what 
St. Paul meant when he anathematized all who should 
" preach any other Gospel " than that which the Galar 
tians had received from him. In fact, it is not another 
Greedy but " another faith " (er^v irUmv) which is for- 
bidden. Any other interpretation would not only make 
the Fourth General Council contradict the Third, but 
would, in addition, lay such a yoke on the Church 
throughout all ages as even a General Council is not 
competent to impose. Neither the Fathers of Ephesus 
nor those of Chalcedon could foresee the needs of the 
Church throughout all time, and they had as little 
authority as they had inclination to forbid the impoed- 
tion of a new Creed if circumstances required it. To 
add to the confesmn of the Church's faith is not to add 

mucli more must it be directed against any curtailment of it. The 
Dean of Canterbury does not appear to be alive to the proverbial 
danger of playing with edged tools. 


to the/atYA, for the faith admits of no addition. The 
Athanasian Creed is therefore not " another faith," but 
a fuller confession of the very faith which the Third 
and Fourth General Councils sought to guard by lot- 
bidding the substitution of any other. Besides, it is 
clear from the terms of the canon on which the Deans 
of Canterbury and Westminster rely that it was not the 
Church collectively which was forbidden to impose new 
Creeds, but only private individuals, who, of course, 
have no authority to impose any Creed, however ortho* 
dox, other than that which the Church has enjoined. 

Another argument against the use of the Athanasian 
Creed in the public services of our Church, is founded 
on the allegation that '^ it is never recited in a mixed 
congregation in any other Church than our own."* If 
this assertion were ever so true, I am not sure that it 
would much strengthen the cause in behalf of which it 
has been enlisted. For granting, for the sake of argu- 
ment, that the Athanasian Creed " is never recited in 
a mixed congregation in any other Church than our 
own," it is undeniable that the clergy of the Church 
of Home are bound to recite it, on an average, about 
twenty-two times a year. But the proposal of the party 
of whom the Dean of Westminster is the most conspi- 
cuous champion is to relieve both clergy and laity from 
all obligation to read the Athanasian Creed at all. The 

♦ • The Athanasian Creed,' by the Dean of Westminster, p. 84. 
See also his speech in Convocation, * Guardian,' May 1, p. 579. 


argument would have some force if the proposal were to 
place the Creed on the same footing in the Church of 
England as it occupies in the Church of Eome ; it loses 
its point altogether when urged in favour of degrading 
the Creed to a place below that which it occupies either 
in the Western or Eastern Church. 

There has been a good deal of controversy as to the 
exact place occupied by the Athanasian Creed in the 
Church of Eome, and some eminent members of that 
Church, whom I have consulted on the point, do not 
give me precisely the same answer. I believe, how- 
ever, that Dr. Newman hfis given a sufficiently clear 
statement of the case in the following passage, which I 
have his permission for quoting, in a letter which he 
has kindly written to me on the subject : — 

" First, you must recollect we have nothing answering 
to the Anglican Prayer Book with you — no common 
prayer. Devotions are in great measure left to the 
private judgment of the individual. As to the Breviary, 
it is not, properly speaking, congregational at aU. It 
is the solemn prayer of the clergy, the united prayer, 
said by each separately from the impracticability of 
saying it together, though such union is recommended, 
and actually said by them together in chapter, colle- 
giate churches, monastic bodies, &c. 

" Such public service the laity may attend, may join 
in, — in some countries, as in France, have been used to 
join in. But they might come to church while it 



went on, and say their own private prayers under (so 
to say) the shadow and in the power of it, joining in 
and with the Latin service, but using the while their own 
private prayers, under the feeling that all Christians 
are one, and have substantially the same words and 
petitions, and that their hearts are all open to God. 
They would join with the choir, as being helped by 
them and helping them also." 

It is also true, as Dr. Newman informs me, that the 
book of private devotions, which has the special sanc- 
tion of the Holy See (I mean the BaccoUa\ does not 
contain the Athanasian Creed. " But further," I am 
quoting Dr. Newman, "in each country the local 
ecclesiastical authority not exactly provides, but sanc- 
tions, certain devotions. Hence we have various popular 
prayer books, of a miscellaneous character, containing 
prayers and ofiSces for all classes of the faithful, and for 
all circumstances, such as the Garden of the Sovly &c. 
Now as to the French and Irish prayer books, some of 
them, as the Key of Heaven and the Uravline Mamudy 
do not contain the Athanasian Creed ; but the English, 
all of them, do, viz. the Garden of the Sotd, which dates 
from the time of Bishop Ghalloner, a century ago ; the 
Golden Mamud, the Croum of Jesus, and the Path of 
Heaven, The Athanasian Creed is in all these popular 
books, and the use, or at least the perusal and knowledge, 
of that Creed, is part of our good English tradition.** 

This " good English tradition," I am sorry to find, is 


being encroached upon by foreign devotions of a less 
masculine type, and in some recent editions of the 
Garden of the Soul the Athanasian Creed is not to be 
found. I am told, however, that it is not omitted 
because there is any objection to it on the part either 
of the clergy or laity of the Boman Communion; it 
is simply elbowed out by devotions of a more emotional 
character. I may add, further, that more than one 
Boman Catholic priest, who have every right to speak on 
behalf of the sober Catholicism of their Church, not only 
regret the encroachment on their old English devotions 
by foreign rivals, but would, moreover, be very glad to 
see the Athanasian Creed used generally in the public 
services of their Church. They believe, so one of 
them told me the other day, that their people suflFer a 
great loss by seldom or never hearing the Creed in con- 
gregational worship ; * and there are proposals in some 
quarters to insert it into the oflSce of Benediction. So 
that at the very time some English churchmen are 
agitating for the extrusion of the Creed from the public 
service of our Church, some of the thoughtful mem- 
bers of the Church of Bome are proposing to restore it 
to the public service of their communion. 

What, then, is the exact position occupied by the 

♦ See M. Michaud's letter in the ' Guardian ' of May 1, in which 
fae laments the disuse of the Athanasian Creed among the Catholic 
laity of France, and traces it to the development of Ultramontanism. 


Athanasian Creed in the Churches of England and 
Borne respectively? In the Church of England it 
is appointed to be used, at Morning Prayer, thirteen 
times a year ; but out of these thirteen days there are 
only four on which the laity generally attend Morning 
Prayer. This must be qualified, howeyer, by the 
admission that of the remaining nine days two, on an 
average in the course of the year, fall on a Sunday ; so 
that the laity, as a body, are obliged to listen to or join 
iu the recitation of the Athanasian Creed six times a 
year. The clergy are, of course, under obligation to 
use it thirteen times in the year, and the Eighth 
Article, moreover, binds them to accept its statements 
as implicitly as they do those of the Apostles' Creed or 
the Nicene. I am aware that this has been questioned 
of late, especially by the Bishop of St. David's, and I 
shall presently &:ive some reasons why I think that his 
LordsWp's opLL on that part of the subject catmot be 
sustained. But if they could be sustained they would 
weaken his case instead of strengthening it. He main- 
tains, if I understand him aright, that absolute certainty 
is impossible in the sphere of religious truth; that 
contradictory statements in matters of faith are therefore 
equally admissible; and that consequently the *^mo8t 
certain warrants of Holy Scripture " predicated of the 
Athanasian Creed in the Eighth Article merely mean 
such warrants as appear certain to particular minds, and 
need not preclude a subscriber to the Article from con- 


scientiously believing that the testimony of Holy 
Scripture is really against the Athanasian Greed. 

This line of reasoning reduces subscription to a 
solemn mockery, but it also takes the sting out of the 
grievance which the Bishop of St. David's finds in the 
compulsory use of the Athanasian Greed. For if solemn 
language may be interpreted in the elastic sense for 
which the bishop contends, I do not see why the man who 
is obliged to recite the Athanasian Greed is in a worse 
case than the man who is obliged to sign the Eighth 
Article. The conscience which can subscribe without 
a twinge the proposition that the statements of the 
Athanasian Creed "may be proved by most certain 
warrants of Holy Scripture," and yet at the same time 
believes the contrary, need not, surely, be grievously 
shocked by the public recitation of a document to which 
he has already given his explicit sanction with a mental 
reservation. The Bishop of St. David's theory of inter- 
pretation has been compared with that of Dr. Newman 
in Tract XG. But there is really no analogy between 
the two cases. Dr. Newman contended that the 
popular interpretation of the Articles was not, or at 
least need not be, their real meaning, taking all the 
facts of the case into consideration ; that, for instance, 
the doctrine of Purgatory condemned in one of the 
Articles does not mean every doctrine of purgatory, but 
only the " Bomish doctrine." The reasons adduced by 
Dr. Newman in support of this view appear to me con- 


clusiye, and they have since been justified by the Judg- 
ment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 
the case of ^ Essays and Reviews.' It is there decided that 
Mr. Wilson's doctrine of Purgatory is not inconsistent 
with £Edthful subscription to the Twenty-second Article, 
and the present Archbishop of Canterbury " is glad that 
the expression of such a hope " in Purgatory " is settled 
not to be actually punishable by the laws of our Church."* 
This is very different from the Bishop of St David's 
theory of interpretation. He maintains '' that it will 
I ^ be found possible to prove by most certain warrant of 
Holy Scripture two propositions which are in direct 
conflict one with the other/' t and that therefore a 
subscriber to the Eighth Article may conscientiously 
maintain that the Athanasian Creed eannot " be proved 
by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture," and further, 
that ^Hhose portions which are the very essence of 
the Creed . . • ought never to have been made articles 
of faith." To compare this view of subscription with 
that advanced in Tract XC. is simply absurd. The one 
maintains that the Thirty-nine Articles are historically 
and grammatically capable of a catholic interpretation ; 
the other asserts that two distinctly contradictory in- 
terpretations of the Articles are equally tenable, since 
truth is relative to the individual, and not absolute in 

* See Preface to his * Sermons on the Word of God and the 
Grcmnd of Faith.* 
t See his speech in Convocation, ' Guardian,' February 14, p. 206. 


itself. In other words, the theory of the Bishop of 
St. David's is founded on Pyrrhonism pure and simple, 
while that of Dr. Newman merely maintains that the 
popular gloss on the Thirty-nine Articles does not 
represent their true meaning. I cannot help expressing 
my regret that the Bishop of St. David's should have 
been a party to the hounding of Dr. Newman out of 
the Church of England a quarter of a century ago for 
putting forth a view of the Thirty-nine Articles which 
is mildness itself compared with that which the Bishop 
himself has now propoimded. 

But to return to the place which the Athanasian 
Creed occupies respectively in the Churches of England 
and of Bome. In the Church of England the laity, as a 
body, are obliged to recite or listen to it about six 
times a year. The clergy are bound to recite it 
thirteen times a year, and to acknowledge, in addition, 
that it " ought thoroughly to be received and believed," 
because it " may be proved by most certain warrants of 
Holy Scripture." 

In the Church of Kome the clergy are bound to 
say the Athanasian Creed about twenty-two times a 
year. The oflSce in which it occurs is, in theory, an 
office for united worship, and is used as such in cathe- 
dral, collegiate, and monastic establishments. Prac- 
tically, however, the laity seldom attend the office 
of Prime, and have, indeed, but few opportunities of 


doing so; and consequently they rarely hear the 
Athanasian Creed in the service of the Church. On 
the other hand, there is no question in the Church of 
Borne as to the Athanasian Creed being untrue or 
uncharitable, or unsuited for lay use. On the contrary, 
it is found in nearly all the books of devotion recom- 
mended by the Church for the use of the laity in this 
coimtry. "That it is the authoritative word of the 
Church," Dr. Newman tells me, "and the infallible 
answer of the Church to all her children who ask ques- 
tions on the subject of which it speaks, is quite certain." 

In both the Boman and Anglican Churches, there- 
fore, the Athanasian Creed holds at present an authori- 
tative and a dogmatic position. In the Church of 
Bome the use of the Creed is binding on the clergy 
with far greater stringency than it is on ours, but the 
use of it is not imperative on the laity at all.* In 
both Churches it is a dogmatic standard of appeal for 
clergy and laity on the questions of which it treats ; 
but it is evident that it would lose its dogmatic 
position in the Church of England if any of the chief 
proposals lately made respecting it should be carried 
into effect. 

1. The proposal most in vogue during the past 
twelvemonth, and which has been fathered on the 
Bishop of Winchester, is that the Creed should be 

• Nor is it on our laity. The only Creed which is, properly 
speaking, imposed on our laity is the Apostles* Creed. 

c 2 


taken out of the Prayer Book and buried among the 
Thirty-nine Articles. This proposal was advocated at 
a public meeting in St, James's Hall, by Mr. Cowper 
Temple, the Bishop of Exeter, Dean Stanley, Dr. 
Barry, Dr. Miller, and others, and was carried by a 
large majority. There is no need, however, to discuss 
it now. It found no advocate in Convocation, even 
Dean Stanley expressed his contempt for it afterwards, 
and its putative parent has scornfully disowned it. 

2. Another proposal is to make the Creed optional, 
either by putting "may " instead of " shall " in the rubric 
which prescribes its use ; or by leaving it to the discre- 
tion of the oflSciating minister to use it on the appointed 
days instead of the Apostles' Creed. This is a trifle less 
degrading to the Creed than its banishment among the 
Thirty-nine Articles ; but the proposal is both illogical 
and mischievous. If the Creed " savours of heresy," 
as Canon Swainson asserts, or is " avowedly heretical," 
as the Dean of Westminster assures us, or is terribly 
uncharitable and unchristian, as all who agitate for its 
abolition declare, it is surely a strange remedy to 
leave every parish priest in England free to use it or 
not, as his fancy dictates. Would the laity who object 
to the Creed consider it less objectionable if it were 
imposed upon them by the private judgment of a 
single clergyman rather than by the authority of the 
Church? I have naturally a great respect for the 
clergy of the Church of England ; but I protest against 


our being empowered to impose our own opinions as 
articles of faith on the laity. For it is evident that 
under an optional system the clergyman who read and 
he who omitted the Greed would alike be imposing 
their own opinions on the laity, and the Creed would 
thus be robbed of all dogmatic authority. It would 
no longer be what Dr. Newman says it is in the Church 
of Bome, " the authoritative word of the Church, and 
her infallible answer to all her children who ask 
questions on the subjects of which it speaks." 1 can 
now refer to the Athanasian Creed as an authoritative 
exposition of the faith ; but I can do so no longer if 
the Church of Englaud should authorize its disuse on 
the ground of some of its clauses being both false and 
unchristian. And the proposal would prove to be not 
less mischievous than illogical. In truth it would be 
diflBcult to devise a plan better calculated to set clergy 
and laity by the ears. If an ill-instructed layman here 
and there sits down and shuts his book with a bang 
when the Creed is said on the authority of the Church, 
what would be the measure of his indignation when it 
was said on the private authority of the parson ? The 
optional use of the Creed would, in fact, introduce the 
seeds of strife into almost every parish in England ; a 
curious result certainly from the labours of a Boyal 
Commission which was appointed for the express pur- 
pose of bringing about a more uniform observance of 
the rubrics of the Prayer Book. 



3. The third proposal is to mutilate the Athanasian 
Creed — to cut out of it the clauses which give offence to 
some persons. This is a proposal which, I hold, lies 
absolutely beyond the competency of the Church of 
England. At present, notwithstanding all that has 
been said to the contrary, the Athanasian Creed is an 
exposition of the Catholic faith, accepted as such by 
the whole of Christendom. Mutilate it, and it ceases 
to be the Athanasian Creed ; it becomes a new and a 
different confession of faith. All that has been said about 
the " damnatory clauses " being only " the setting " of 
the Creed is mere rubbish. They belong to its essence, 
and are, in fact, implied in all Creeds. Why is any 
Creed necessary if belief in it is, after all, a matter of 
indifference? And belief in it must be a matter of 
indifference if the principle of the " danmatory clauses " 
is repudiated. I repeat, therefore, that the excision of 
the "damnatory clauses" would make the Athanasian 
Creed a new Creed ; and the adyocates of mutilation are 
thus landed in a strange inconsistency. They object to 
the Creed because it is not older, as they think, than the 
time of Charlemagne ; and by way of remedy they pro- 
pose to make it as modem as the time of Queen Victoria. 
They wish to abolish it because it is not old enough ; 
and they propose to retain it on condition that it can 
be made less old than it is ! They think it ought not 
to be used in the public services of the Church, though 
it has the approval of Christendom, because it has not 

-X" ^ 


the express sanction of an (Ecumenical Council ; but 
they think it would be right to use it in the public 
services of the Church if it were mutilated into a shape 
which has neyer been sanctioned by any portion of the 
Catholic Church. 

4. The fourth proposal, and the last which I shall 
notice here, is that of leaving the Athanasian Creed as 
it is in the Prayer Book, but abolishing the rubric 
which prescribes its use. This, of course, would be 
equivalent to a prohibition against its use ; and if it is 
forbidden to be used, I see no reason why it should be 
retained in the Prayer Book at all. 

I have now noticed the only proposals which, as far 
as I know; have been seriously entertained by those 
who dislike the Athanasian Creed, and it is obvious 
that the effect of adopting any of them would be to 
deprive the Creed of all dogmatic authority, and 
to degrade it below the place which it occupies 
throughout the rest of Christendom. In the Church of 
Borne and in the Eastern Church the Athanasian 
Creed is acknowledged as a dogmatic rule of faith. It 
was adopted as such by the English Church at the 
Beformation, and also by all continental reformers. 
'' Lutherans, Zuinglians, and Calvinists, vied with each 
other in their adoption of the Athanasian Creed."* 
What is now proposed, therefore, is not to put the 

♦ Palmer's * Treatise on the Church of Christ,* L, p. 98. 


Creed on the same footing wliich it occupies in other 
Communions, but to put an indignity upon it which 
neither the Church of Borne nor the Eastern Church 
would endure for a moment. And yet we are seriously 
asked to believe that the degradation or mutilation of 
the Athanasian Creed would greatly facilitate the 
reunion of Christendom. The diflFerence between our^ 
selves and the Church of Eome — and the same may be 
said of the Eastern Church — ^in the use of the Athanar 
sian Creed is a difference of method, not of principle.* 
I quote Dr. Newman again : " It is no sound argument 
that you should remove it fipom your Common Prayer 
because we haven't it in our Common Prayer,/or we have 
no tmited vocal Common Prayer. You might as well say 
that you should leave out the Ten Commandments 
because we have not the Tei^ Commandments read in 
Church ; for we have no imperative Common Prayers 
such as yours. The Athanasian Creed is imposed upon 
our clergy." This pertinent observation is equally 
true of the Eastern Church. It has " no united vocal 
Common Prayer." But the Athanasian Creed is in the 
Horologium; and it is in books of devotion recom- 
mended for the use of the laity. Clearly, therefore, no 
valid argument for the disuse of the Athanasian Creed 

* The Senior Professor of Theology in Maynooth College, Dr. 
Murray, allows me to state, on his authority, that ** the Church (of 
Rome) is fully committed to the perfect purity of each doctrinal 
statement in the Athanasian Creed, just as much as if that purity 
had been defined by a Greneral Council." 


can be drawn from the practice of the Greek or Boman 
Church, and all that has been spoken or written on 
tliat point may be dismissed as irrelevant rhetoric. 

I am far from asserting, howeyer, that under other 
circumstances, it might not be advisable to modify 
in some degree the obligation to use the Athanasian 
Creed ; as, for instance, ajnong some of our mining 
population, who ''are become such as have need of 
milk, and not of strong meat." In such cases I see no 
reason, abstractedly, why the Ordinary should not be 
empowered to dispense an incumbent from the obliga* 
tion to use the Creed till such time as his people were 
sufficiently instructed to digest " strong meat." * But 
no concession which did not go farther than this would 
satisfy those who dislike the Creed, and any concession 
would certainly be misunderstood at this time. The 
most conspicuous assailants of the Creed have been very 
careful to assure us that they do not object to it 
because they think it too strong meat for such as are 

* I am obliged to say that I offer even this suggestion with oon- 
siderable diffidence ; for it is a very remarkable fact^that every mis- 
sionary bishop in Convocation insisted on the value of the Athanasian 
Greed even in the case of neophytes. Bishop Glaughton found it 
useful among the natives of Ceylon, Bishop M'Dougall among his 
Chinese converts in Borneo, and the Bishop of Lichfield among the 
liaories of New Zealand. The late Bishop Cotton, too, having gone 
to India with some prejudices against the use of the Athanasian 
Creed, found it so valuable as an antidote against the various forms 
of Oriental theosophy, that he became one of the most earnest advo* 
cates for its use in congregational worship. — See Appendix, Note A, 


"babes" in religious knowledge, but because they 
think it untrue and uncharitable. This was the ground 
taken up by Dean Stanley, whom even those who differ 
from him most must admire for the fearless honesty 
with which he always accepts the full consequences of 
his premisses. He declared the other day, in his place 
in Convocation, that the " damnatory clauses " in the 
Athanasian Creed were " absolutely false ;" and in his 
little book* on the subject he affirms emphatically that 
the Athanasian Creed, "so far from recommending 
the doctrine of the Trinity to unwilling minds, is the 
chief obstacle in the way of the acceptance of that 

doctrine." t 

* « The Athanasian Creed,' p. 85. 

t Dr. Swainson uses language equally strong and somewhat more 
offensive in his speech in Convocation. " With regard to the last 
clause, he had ho hesitation in saying that it was false, and it was 
time for it to be altered. Whatever explanations were put upon it, 
they were not the meaning which the words conveyed. They were 
explaining away, and a thing that wanted explaining away ought 

not to be kept This was not a time to speak smoothly, and 

therefore he would say it was because he held the clause to be, 
literally speaking, untrue, that he objected to hear in the documents 
of the Church of England expressions which required such explana- 
tions." — ^ Guardian,' April 24, p. 535. Since Dr. Swainson thinks 
that ** this is not a time to speak smoothly," I hope he will forgive 
me for asking, who is Dr. Swainson that he should lay down the 
law in this dictatorial manner, making his own mind, forsooth ! the 
rule and measure of all human intelligence ? When the intellect of 
Dr. Swainson is on one side and the intellect of Christendom for 
centuries on the other, I hope it is not very presumptuous to believe 
that Dr. Swainson's interpretation of the Athanasian Creed is ^)os- 
sibly an erroneous one. 


To make any concession at the present moment, 
therefore, would be to acknowledge the justice of the 
Dean's strictures, and to proclaim to the world that 
the Athanasian Creed contains propositions which are 
" absolutely false," and an obstacle in the way of those 
who would otherwise willingly accept the doctrine of 
the Trinity. 

But it is worth while, in passing, to examine the 
Dean of Westminster's startling statement a little more 
closely. He asserts that the Athanasian Creed, '^ so 
far from recommending the doctrine of the Trinity to 
unwilling minds, is the chief obstacle in the way of the 
acceptance of that doctrine." Doubtless the Dean 
knows what he says, and must have facts to support 
him. But I am inclined to think that his experience 
is a very exceptional one. Mine, at all events, is of a 
contrary character. I have been told by more than 
one Nonconformist that they have found the Athanasian 
Creed a great help in laying hold of the doctrine of 
the Trinity. A great deal depends, however, on the 
meaning which we attach to the word Trinity, and I do 
not feel quite sure that I understand the sense in 
which the Dean uses it in the above passage. 
"Emmanuel Swedenborg," he tells us,* "and his fol- 
lowers, who acknowledge no Person in the Trinity but 
that of 'the Divine Man Jesus Christ,' are yet ardent 
admirers of the Athanasian Creed, and claim its 

* * The Athanasian Greed/ p. 22. 


sanction for their doctrine, and are ready to * demon- 
strate that all its contents, even to the very words, are 
agreeable to the truth, promded * that for a Trinity of 
Persons we understand a Trinity of Person*" — provided, 
that is, we suffer the doctrine of the Trinity to evapo- 
rate in the shadowy counterfeit of it which Sabellianism 
offers in its place. " With this reservation," the Dean 
of Westminster goes on to say, quoting White's * Life 
of Swedenborg,' « the mind of a Swedenborgian may 
traverse the clauses of that arduous dogma with joyful 
assent and consent." Doubtless ; for the reservation in 
question gives us, not a Trinity of Persons, but a triune 
manifestation of one Person. No doubt the Athanasian 
Creed " is the chief obstacle in the way of the accept- 
ance of that doctrine." But the doctrine of the Trinity 
which the Dean of Westminster and I hold is very 
different. We believe that the Trinity of the Christian 
Creed does not mean a succession of characters assumed 
by one Person in the sphere of time, but a distinction 
of Persons whose relations to each other are coincident 
and eternaL I wonder the Dean did not see that his 
quotation from Swedenborgian theology is, in fact, a 
striking tribute to the value of the Athanasian Creed 
as a bulwark of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. 
Swedenborg could accept the " arduous dogma " of the 
Trinity in a Sabellian sense, ^^ provided " the Athanasian 
Creed were abolished or altered. Just so. And there- 

* The italics are the Dean's. 


fore I trust that the Athanasian Creed will neither be 
abolished nor altered. To do either, in response to this 
challenge, would be to abandon the faith and commit 
the Church of England to Sabellianism. 

I cannot see much in the argument that the Athana- 
sian Creed ought to be disused because some distin- 
guished names have at different times objected to it, 
for a much larger number of names still more dis- 
tinguished could easily be marshalled on the other side. 
Still, if the Athanasian Creed is to be thrown down by 
haying great names flung at it, care should be taken 
that none but fairly legitimate names are summoned 
for that purpose ; and this caution is especially neces- 
sary in the case of persons who are no longer on earth 
to defend themselves. The Dean of Westminster has, 
I think, been a little hasty in this respect. He has 
quoted Chillingworth's strong language in 1635, namely, 
that ^^ the damning clauses in St Athanasius' Creed 
are most false, and also in a high degree schismatical 
and presumptuous ;" but he has forgotten to add that 
Chillingworth practically retracted this opinion three 
years afterwards. In the year 1635 Chillingwofth 
refused to sign the Thirty-nine Articles, partly on ac- 
count of the '' damnatory clauses " in the Athanasian 
Creed, and partly because he did not think the Fourth 
Commandment binding on Christians. But, ^' upon more 
mature consideration," as Waterland says, " he happily 


got over his diflBculties and subscribed/' in the follow- 
ing terms : — 

Ego Gulielmus Chillingworth, Clericns, in Artibus 
Magister, ad Cancellariatmn Ecclesisd Cathedralis Bea- 
taB Marise Sarum, una cum PraBbenda de Brinworth, alias 
Brickleworth, in Comitatu Northampton Petriburgensis 
Diaeceseos in eadem Ecclesia fundata, et eidem Gancel- 
lariatui annexa, admittendus et instituendus, (ymnSyas 
hi^ce Artievlis, et Singulis in eis conteniis^ volens et ex 
animo svibscribo, et consenmm meum eisdem proebeo. 
Vicesimo die Julii, 1638. Gulielmus Chillingworth. 

It is a mistake, therefore, to quote Chillingworth 
against the Athanasian Creed. K he is to be cited at 
all, he is rather a witness for the defence, unless it be 
maintained that he was a hypocrite when he signed the 
Articles, in which case his opinion would be worthless 
on either side. For surely the adhesion, ex animo and 
" after mature consideration," of a man who condemned 
the Athanasian Creed in such unqualified language, is 
a much more striking testimony to its value than that 
of one who never doubted. If Chillingworth had never 
retracted his adverse opinion, opposed as it is to the 
consensus of Christendom, that fact would not influence 
my judgment in the slightest degree. But those who 
think much of his passionate invective against the 
Athanasian Creed ought to be still more impressed by 
his subsequent acceptance of it volens et ex animo. Is 
it not possible, moreover, that if they follow his 


example and enter on a dispassionate and '' mature 
consideration " of the Creed, they, too, may be able in 
the course of three years to regard it with diflferent 
feelings? And this is one good reason why Con- 
vocation should have decided against precipitate 

Another name which the Dean of Westminster 
presses into his service is that of Baxter. It is not an 
authoritative name on such a subject; but, quantum 
valeaty the real drift of his testimony is rather against 
the Dean of Westminster than for him. It is true he 
had an objection to the " damnatory clauses," but he 
would have been quite satisfied with such an explana- 
tory note as, for instance, the Oxford Professors have 
suggested. His words are, *'the danmatory clauses 
excepted, or modestly expounded^ I embrace the Creed 
commonly called Athanasius' oa (he heat explanation of 
the Trinity'' And elsewhere, " I unfeignedly account 
the doctrine of the Trinity the sum and kernel of the 
Christian religion, as expressed in our baptism and 
Athanasius' Creed, the lest eaposition of it I ever read.^' 
I humbly submit, therefore, that Baxter cannot fairly be 
quoted, any more than Chillingworth, by those who 
would banish the Athanasian Creed from the public 
.services of the Church. It is to be observed, too, that 
this eminent leader of Nonconformity found the 
Athanasian Cr^ed the reverse of *^ an obstacle in the 
way of his acceptance of the doctrine of the Trinity." 


Jeremy Taylor is undoubtedly a greater name than 
Baxter or even Chillingworth, and both the Dean of 
Westminster and the Bishop of St. David's have accord- 
ingly not failed to invoke his aid against the Athanasian 
Creed. It may be questioned, however, whether his 
alliance in this matter is not more damaging than his 
hostility would have been. For charm of diction, 
affluence of imagination, and the fervour of his devo- 
tional writings, Jeremy Taylor will always occupy a 
distinguished place in our literature. But whoever 
wants accuracy of theological thought and expression 
must seek it elsewhere than in the works of Jeremy 
Taylor. He had something like a passion for running 
his head against all articles of faith which placed 
any check on the wanderings of an unusually discur- 
sive imagination, and as a controversialist he was not 
always very scrupulous ; nor had he, when the mood 
was upon him, any objection to "damnatory clauses" of 
his own, in comparison with which those of the Atha- 
nasian Creed are mild indeed.* A writer who could 

* " Jeremy Taylor, in two singularly unrhetorical and unimpas- 
sioned chapters, deliberately enumerates the most atrocious acts of 
cruelty in human history, and says that they are surpassed by the 
tortures inflicted by the Deity. A few instances will suffice. Cer- 
tain persons 'put rings of iron, stuck fast .with sharp points of 
needles, about their arms and feet, in such a manner as the prisoners 
could not move without wounding themselves ; then they compassed 
them about with fire, to the intent that, standing still they might 
be burned alive, and if they stirred the sharp points pierced their 


characterize the Arian controversy contemptuously as a 
dispute about a vowel, and who held himself at liberty 
to accept or reject the Nicene Creed, is not likely to be 
owned as an authority on matters of faith by those who 
believe, as the Church throughout the world has always 
believed, that the very life of Christianity depended on 
the definition of Nicaea. To say that it makes no dif- 
ference whether we consider the Son as 6/Aooi^io$ or as 
ofiouowTLtys with the Father, is simply to say that it 
matters not whether we believe in the Trinity or not. 
For if the Son is not consubstantial with the Father, 
He is either a creature or another God : a creature, if 

flesh What, then, shall be the torment of the damned where 

they burn eternally without dying, and without the possibility of 
removing? .... Alexander, the son of Hyroanus, caused eight 
hundred to be crucified, and whilst they were yet alive caused their 
wives and children to be murdered before their eyes, that so they 
might not die once, but many deaths. This rigour shall not be 

wanting in hell Mezentius tied a living body to the dead 

until the putrefied exhalations had killed the living What is 

this in respect of hell, when each body of the damned is more loath- 
some and unsavoury than a million of dead dogs ? . . . . Bona ven- 
ture says, if one of the damned were brought into this world it were 

sufficient to infect the whole earth We are amazed to think 

of the inhumanity of Phalaris, who roasted men alive in his brazen 

bull. That was a joy in respect of that fire of hell The 

torment .... comprises as many torments as the body of man has 
joints, sinews, arteries, &c., being caused by that penetrating and 

real fire, of which this temporal fira is but a painted fire 

What comparison will there be between burning tor an hundred 
years' space, and to be burning without interruption as long as God 
is God ? * (* Contemplations on the State of Man,' book ii., ch. 6-7.)" 
— Lecky's * History of European Morals,' ii., p. 239. 


He is of a created substance ; another God, if His sub- 
sttoce is uncreated, yet not identical with the Father's. 
With his looseness of view on this point, it* is no 
wonder that Jeremy Taylor Wrote disparagingly of the 
Nicene as well as of the Athanasian Greed ; but surely 
the very fact of his having done so ought to have dis- 
qualified him as a witness in this controversy. The 
Bishop of St. David's, however, is of a different opinion. 
He thinks that Jeremy Taylor "is a person whose 
opinions are entitled to very considerable respect ; " 
and it must be owned that the respect which his Lord- 
ship does pay to them is even more than " considerable." 
He actually seems to have persuaded himself that the 
single authority of Jeremy Taylor is sufiScient to out- 
weigh the decision of a General Council. Nor is this 
a mere hasty opinion uttered on the spur of the moment 
in the heat of debate, for the Bishop repeats it delibe- 
rately in a letter to the * Guardian ' of April 10. " In 
my speech in Convocation," he says, " I drew attention 
to the fact that, in Jeremy Taylor's view, it was a 
matter open to very grave doubt whether the Council 
of Nicsea was justified, in point of discretion, in framing 
any new Creed at aU. He himself clearly thought that 
it would have been better to have * kept the very words 
of Scripture,' and not to have introduced such a term 
as 6/xoovo-tos." No doubt that was Jeremy Taylor's 
opinion, and for that very reason it appears to me " a 
matter open to very grave doubt whether " an opinion 


80 subversive of the dogina4iic position of the Church of 
Eugland ought to have been quoted with approbation 
by a Bishop of that Church. The plain truth seems to 
be that the Bishop of St. David's has relied too much 
on the native acuteness of his intellect, and has not 
taken the trouble to acquaint himself with the real 
attitude of the Church of England in respect to the 
authority of the General Councils. His off-hand refer- 
ence to the Twenty-first Article proves this. " If," he 
says, "the Article which requires us to believe that 
* General Councils may err, and sometimes have erred, 
even in things pertaining to God,' sanctions such a 
judgment in a Creed promulgated by a General Council, 
much more must we be at liberty to hold a like opinion 
with regard to the composition of any private Doctor, 
even if it was Athanasius himself." 

With the leave of the Bishop of St David's, I humbly 
venture to deny that the Twenty-first Article gives any 
such sanction as he imagines to Jeremy Taylor's flippant 
•* judgment on a Creed promulgated by a General 
Council." The truth is, "General Council" is an 
equivocal phrase. It covers the Creed of Nicsea ; but it 
may also cover the Creed of Ariminum. A General 
Council, in its idea, is an assembly in which all the Sees 
of Christendom are represented. But no such Council 
has ever taken place. In the era of the Arian con- 
troversy tlie number of Sees in East and West together 
was about two thousand, and of these only a moiety 

D 2 


were represented in the first six General Councils^ 
whose decrees are accepted by the Church universaL 
The Council of Niceea numbered only three hundred 
and eighteen Bishops, that of Ephesus about two 
hundred, and that of Constantinople only one hundred 
and fifty ; in other words, the number of bishops pre- 
sent at the first three (Ecumenical Councils respectively 
were about one-thirteenth, one-ninth!, and one-sixth of 
the whole Episcopate. On the other hand, several 
Councils whose decisions have been rejected by the 
Church were much more representative as regards 
numbers than most of those whose decrees, as the 
Church of England declares, '* are allowed and received 
of all men." The Arianising Council of Ariminum was 
attended by four hundred bishops, and Eutychianism 
prevailed in a Council consisting of above six hundred. 
It is evident, therefore, that we cannot predicate 
inerrancy beforehand of any Council ; for it is not the 
number of bishops present, but the consent of the 
Church dispersed throughout the world, that confers 
on the decrees of any Council an oecumenical character. 
It is of course morally impossible that the collective 
mind of Christendom, if it found a truly representative 
organ, could go astray in a matter of faith ; for other- 
wise our Lord's promise would fail, " and the gates of 
hell" would indeed "prevail against" His Church. 
But whether the collective mind of the Church at large 
is fairly represented in any particular Council can only 


be ascertained by the consent of the Church afterwards. 
A Council whose decrees^ on being made known 
throughout the world, are accepted by the Church 
universal as the expression of its faith, receives thereby 
an oecumenical character, and its decrees are universally 
binding. On the other hand, a Council, however general 
in the composition and number of its members, whose 
decrees fail to command this universal assent, is not 
really oecumenical ; and it may be truly said of it not 
only that it " may err," but that it "has erred" in fact. 
This is a distinction which is quite familiar to 
theological students, and I am surprised that the 
Bishop of St. David's should have overlooked it. " The 
final authority of proper oecumenical synods," says 
Palmer,* " does not arise merely from the number of 
bishops assembled in them, but from the approbation 
of the Catholic Church throughout the world ; which, 
having received their decrees, examines them with the 
respect due to so considerable an authority, compares 
them with Scripture and Catholic tradition, and 
by an universal approbation and execution of those 
decrees, pronounces a final and irrefragable sentence in 
their favour." This is certainly the view of the Galli- 
can School of Boman Catholic divines. They all 
declare that the consent of the Church dispersed is 
necessary to the validity of all conciliar decrees. 
The following authorities are quoted by Palmer : — 
♦ * Treatise on the Church/ ii,, p. 151. 


De Barral, Archbishop of Tours, says, "These are 
facts which prove in an invincible manner that nei- 
ther the decrees of Popes nor even those of Councils 
acquire an irrefragable authority except by virtue 
of the consent of the Universal Church." **The last 
mark of any Council or assembly's representing truly 
the Catholic Church," says Bossuet, " is when the 
whole body of the Episcopate, and the whole society 
which professes to receive its instructions, approve 
and receive this Council ; this, I say, is the last seal 
of the authority of this Council, and the infallibility 
of its decrees." Again, " The Council of Orange . . . 
was by no means universal. It contained chapters 
which the Pope had sent. In this Coimcil there were 
scarcely twelve or thirteen bishops ; but because it was 
received without opposition its decisions are no more 
disputed than those of the Council of Nice, heca/wd^ 
everything depends on consent. There were but few 
bishops of the West in the Council of Nice, there were 
none in that of Constantinople, none in that of Ephesus, 
and at Chalcedon only the legates of the Pope ; and 
the same may be said of others. But because aU the 
world consented then or afterwards those decrees are the 
decrees of the whole world. .... If we go farther back, 
Paul of Samosata was condemned only by a particular 
Council held at Antioch ; but because its decree was 
addressed to all the bishops in the world and received 
by them (for in this resides the whole foree, and without 


it the mere address would be nothing), this decree is 

These are specimens of the teaching of the moderate 
school in the Church of Bome, and Palmer is amply 
justified' in saying that " it is now generally affirmed 
by Boman Catholic theologians of respectability, after 
Bossuet, that the only final proof of the oecumenicity of 
a Council is its acceptance by the Universal Church as 
(Bcumenical; and that this acceptance confers on it 
such an authority that no defSects in its mode of cele- 
bration can be adduced afterwards to throw doubt on 
its judgments." Nor is the distinction here insisted on 
confined to writers of Bossuet's school. The Ultra- 
montane Bellarmine* divides Oeneralia Concilia into 
OenercUia Concilia ajpprcbata, Oeneralia Concilia repro^ 
bata ; Oeneralia Concilia partim approbata^ partim re- 
probata; Oeneralia Concilia nee manifeste prohaia^ nee 
manifeste reprdbaia. So that, in the opinion of Bellar- 
mine, a Council might be •* general *' and yet err, and 
he enumerates several General Councils whose decrees 
have been repudiated by the Church, and which there- 
fore must be considered to have erred. 

That this is the sense of the Twenty-first Article is 
evident, because the Church of England acknowledges, 
in the Second Book of Homilies, the authority of " those 
six Councils which were allowed a/nd received of aU men'* 
And an Act of Parliament declares that '^ nothing is 

* * De Conciliis Boclesiad,' lib. i., c. 5-8. 


to be adjudged heresy but that which heretofore has 
been so adjudged by the authority of the Canonical 
Scriptures, or the first four General Councih, or some 
other OeneraJ Couneily wherein the same hath been 
declared heresy by the express words of Scripture." * 
Moreover, in her Canons of 1571, the Church of 
England expressly enjoins her clergy to be careful 
"that they never teach aught in a sermon, to be 
religiously held and believed by the people, but what 
is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old or New Tester 
ment, and which the Catholic Fathers and ancient 
Bishops have collected from that very doctrine." 
This Canon was framed nine years after the publication 
of the Thirty-nine Articles, and by the same hands ; 
and it supplies us therefore with the meaning which 
the Twenty-first Article bore in the minds of those 
who composed it* It is clear that they accepted the 
authority of " those six General Councils which were 
allowed and received of all men," as final, and their 
decrees as irrevocable* In fact, there is no reasonable 
doubt that the Twenty-first Article was aimed at the 
Council of Trent, which was then sitting. It was a 
declaration beforehand that its decrees would not be 
considered binding by the Church of England. Jeremy 
Taylor, therefore, in claiming the right of sitting in 
judgment on the Nicene Council, simply repudiated 
the authority of the Church from which he received 

* 1 Eliz,, cap. i., a.d. 1558. 


his commission ; and the Bishop of St. Dayid's, in back- 
ing him np, is amenable to the same observation. 

So far I have been dealing with matters whicb^ 
thongh imported into the discussion on the Athanasian 
Creed, do not really touch the essence of the con- 
troversy. The Athanasian Creed, after all, is not 
assailed because its reputed authorship is doubtful 
or spurious, or because the Church of England makes 
a more prominent use of it than other Churches, or 
because various names, great and small, have at dif- 
ferent times objected to it, or because its technical 
language makes it unsuitable for use in mixed con- 
gregations, or because it never received the sanction 
of an (Ecumenical Council ; but because it asserts, in 
language too plain to be misunderstood or explained 
away, that wilful perversion of the Christian faith is as 
perilous to men's everlasting interests as wilful tran&« 
gression of the moral law. The " damnatory clauses '* 
are the real rock of offence, and the assailants of the 
Creed will be appeased by no concession which stops 
short either of their excision or of the abrogation of 
the compulsory use of the Creed. Now, for my own 
part, I will say frankly that the " damnatory clauses " 
have never presented the smallest difficulty to my mind. 
I have always repeated them ^ animo and without the 
least hesitation or compunction ; and yet I do not think 
that my natural disposition is exceptionaUy <»uel or 


even intolerant; nor do I admit, on the ^ other hand, 
that I interpret the Creed in any non-natural sense 
whatever. I apply to it the same rules of interpretar 
tion which men in general apply to the Bible or to 
Blackstone's ^ Commentaries,' and I accept it in as literal 
a sense as the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene. Suffer 
me then to put down in plain language what I conceive 
to be the natural and obvious meaning of the so-called 
" damnatory clauses." 

'* Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is 
necessary that he hold the Catholic faith, which faith 
except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without 
doubt he shall perish everlastingly." 

Terrible words certainly. What do they mean? 
Unquestionably they must be understood as meaning 
that an Arian, for example, or Sabellian, or Nestorian 
or any other proved heretic, "shall perish everlast- 
ingly." This is the plain and obvious meaning, and 
any interpretation short of it must be rejected as abso- 
lutely irreconcilable with the language of the Creed. 
But having admitted so much, I proceed to draw an im* 
portant distinction. To say "an Arian shall perish 
everlastingly" is a very different proposition from 
saying " Arius shall perish everlastingly." And if 
anyone thinks that this is a subtle distinction, and, in 
fact, a mere playing tvith words, we can easily test the 
validity of my explanation by transferring the question 


from the region of theology to that of morals. Is 
there no difference between saying " a murderer shall 
perish everlastingly" and saying " Marguerite Dixblane, 
the Park Lane murderess, shall perish everlastingly." 
Clearly there is, and everybody admits it. The former 
is an abstract proposition. It denounces a certain 
punishment against a certain crime, and the denun- 
ciation is in a personal form, since of course a crime 
necessarily supposes a criminal. But the criminal is 
denounced qyua criminal, and not qua man. The crime 
ij9 personified, and judgment is passed upon it accord- 
ingly. Murder is inadmissible in heaven, and there- 
fore no murderer, as swi\ can be admitted there. But 
man is a complex being, and we cannot be sure that 
any specific offence against faith or morals is a true 
index to his character as a whole. It is the key 
in which the thoughts habitually move that deter- 
mines the condition of man as a responsible moral 
agent, and God alone, Who sees the heart, can know 
for certain what that key is. The sum total of man's 
capacities for everlasting life are not necessarily ex- 
hausted by the few gross acts incident to social relations 
or open to human valuation; but it is on such acts 
alone that human judgments can be passed, as well in 
the sphere of faith as in that of morals. The Church 
solemnly warns her children that as there is but one 
'^straight and narrow way that leadeth unto life,** 
wilful deviation from that way leads to perdition ; but 


she does not point to any individual human being and 
say, "<Aow art the man, thou shalt perish everlast- 
ingly/' St. Paul, for example, lays it down as an 
axiom of the Christian religion that certain gross sins 
exclude the sinner from heaven. " Ye "know that no 
whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man 
who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the king- 
dom of Christ and of God." This is another way of 
saying that such oflfenders "shall perish everlast- 
ingly," for exclusion from the kingdom of God is 
perdition. And this is quite true in the abstract. 
No unclean person, ob such, has any inheritance in the 
kingdom of God. But did the Apostle intend that hid 
universal proposition should have a particular appli- 
cation? In other words, did he mean that any 
Ephesian offender in particular should "perish evei> 
lastingly " ? . No one will think so. The unclean 
Ephesian, while tmclecm, came within the sweep of the 
Apostle's damnatory proposition. But the man who is 
unclean to-day may, by the mercy of God, be clean 
hereafter. The proposition itself is true universally, 
triie for ever ; but not till the Books are opened shall 
we dare to say that it is true of any person in par- 

No one has any difficulty in perceiving that such 
limitations as these are as natural as they are necessary 
in the "damnatory clauses" of Christian morality. 
Why, then, should they be deemed evasive or non- 


natural when applied to the ** damnatory clauses *' of 
the Athanasian Creed ? If I may say, without ofiTence, 
that immorality excludes from the kingdom of Q-od, 
why should it be considered uncharitable to say that 
heresy also excludes from the kingdom of God ? If 
wilful resistance to the will of God as revealed in His 
moral law puts the rebel in jeopardy of everlasting 
ruin, what ground is there for supposing that we may 
deprave with impunity the revelation which He has 
graciously made to us of His eternal nature ? 

I can declare therefore, without the slightest shock 
to my feelings of benevolence, that an Arian or 
Sabellian ^* shall perish everlastingly ; " but I decline 
peremptorily to express any opinion whatever on the 
final destiny of either Arius or Sabellius individually. 
To do so would be a presumptuous and uncharitable 
exercise of private judgment utterly unsanctioned 
either by the Church or Holy Scripture. I find it 
hard to fathom the mysteries of my own being and to 
forecast its future; and shall I presume to sit in 
judgment on the soul of a fellow sinner and pronounce 
sentence of everlasting perdition upon it ? Certainly 
I dare not ; and, -what is more, the Church of God, 
" pillar and ground of the truth " though she be, has 
never presumed to do so in her collective capacity, 
much less encouraged any of her children to do it 
Arius depraved the faith of Christendom; and, in 
vindication of that faith and of the numberless bless- 


— - • — I -T^ ■ r«B - __■__■ __ _■ mmjm^m^mt^ ■ 

ings of which it is the guardian, Arius was justly con- 
demned. But where is Arius now? And in what 
relation does he stand to that Lord whose Godhead he 
blasphemed on earth? Have the scales fallen from 
his eyes, and does he see the truth at last? Were 
there any extenuating circumstances in his case which 
the eye of man could not detect, but for which He who 
" knoweth all things," and " willeth not the death of 
a sinner," made due allowance ? These are questions 
which I cannot answer, and into which I have no 
warrant to pry. I leave the solution where the Church 
has left it — in the hands of an all-wise, all-merciful 
Saviour. All I presume to say is that a heretic, as 
such, shall not inherit the kingdom of God ; that no 
one who wilfully rejects the truth can, during his per* 
sistence in error, be in a state of salvation. If Arius 
is not now in the outer darkness, if he has been at last 
made " meet for the inheritance of the saints in light," 
he is no longer an Arian ; and it is of the Arian, 
the heretic, the wiKul corrupter of the faith, that 
the Church predicates everlasting perdition, not of the 
individual soul who bore the name of Arius, and who, 
for aught I know, may have long since repented of the 
errors which he taught on earth. This is an answer to 
those who say that the Athanasian Creed damns Milton 
to everlasting perdition, because Milton was an Arian. 
But was he an Arian wilfully and deliberately ? That 
is to say, was the truth placed before hiin in such a 


way that he had no valid excuse for rejecting it ? And 
even then was his rejection of it so persistent and 
halritual as to deprave his character beyond the possi- 
bility of recovery ? We must be in a position to affirm 
all this of Milton, or any other heretic, before we can 
say that he " shall perish everlastingly.*' 

But this explanation is said to be a mere evasion, 
and, in fact, a simple explaining away of the ^' damna- 
tory clauses" of the Athanasian Creed. On the 
contrary, it is a mere truism in morals, and is at least 
as old as Aristotle, who lays down in the third Book of 
his Ethics the very principles of the explanatory note 
suggested by the Oxford Theological Professors. He 
draws a fundamental distinction between a wrong act 
done in iffnorance, and one done because of ignorant. 
The latter, he says, excuses from all blame ; the former 
does not, but may, on the contrary, aggravate the 
oflfence. " There seems to be a farther difference be- 
tween acting because of ignorance, and doing a thing 
in ignorance. Common opinion pronounces that the 
drunken or the angry man does not act because of 
ignorance, but in consequence of drunkenness or anger, 
and yet that he does not act wittingly, but in ignorance. 
Undoubtedly every depraved man is in ignorance of 
what he ought to do, and of that from which he ought 
to refrain ; and it is in consequence of this error that 
men become unjust and altogether bad. But the term 


involuntary is not meant to cover ignorance of man'd 
true interest. Ignorance which aflfects moral choice, 
and ignorance of the universal, are the causes, not of 
involuntary action, but of wickedness ; and it is pre- 
cisely for this ignorance that wicked men are blamed. 
The ignorance which causes involuntary action is 
ignorance of particulars, by which I mean the circum- 
stances and the objects of actions. With regard to 
these particulars, pity and pardon may be proper ; for 
the man who acts in ignorance of some particular is an 
involuntary agent," * 

" The connection of this somewhat compressed pas- 
sage," says Sir Alexander Grant, **is as follows. An 
act is involuntary when caused by ignorance. But 
ignorance cannot be said to be the cause of an act if 
the individual be himself the cause of the ignorance. 
In that case ignorance rather accompanies the act 

{Lyywiv vparrei) than causes it (St* ayvouiv irpaTrei), We SCO 

this (1) in instances of temporary oblivion, as from 
anger or wine ; (2) in those of a standing moral igno- 
rance, or oblivion (ct rts ayvoei to <n)fi<l>€pov — 17 iv ry irpoajL- 

pi<r€L ayvota— 17 koBoXov ayvota). The Only ignorance, then, 
which is purely external to the agent, so as to take 
away from him the responsibility of the act, is some 
chance mistake with regard to the particular facts of 

the case Aristotle strictly confines ignorance, 

as a cause of involuntary action, and therefore as 

* 'Nicom. Eth.,' b. iii., c. L, 14-16. 


excusing from blame, to mistakes about particulars. 
Before proceeding to this particular ignorance, he 
separates from it that kind of ignorance which is 
faulty, because caused by the agent himself. Of this 
there are two kinds — ^the temporary, as, for instance, 
that caused by intoxication ; and the permanent, such 
as that caused by any vicious habit."* 

Aristotle gives the following illustrations of many 
acts done hecauw of iffnorance, and therefore excusable, 
^schylus, being summoned before the Areopagus on 
the charge of having revealed the Mysteries, pleaded 
that he had never himself been initiated, and therefore 
was not aware that the Mysteries which he had put 
into one of his Plays corresponded with the real 
Mysteries. He had therefore sinned heoavse of igruh 
ranoe. Again, there may be a mistake about the thing 

* 'The Ethics of Aristotle/ illustrated with Essays and Notes. 
By Sir Alexander Qrant, Bart., IL, p. 11. 

Gf. Michelet's Commentary in loc. ii Syvouw vparrtiv,) Est igno- 
rantia rerum singularium,qua9 cum extra nos et a nobis sint aliens, 
si a nobis ignorantur, venia dari potest et impunitas. Ejusmodi 
ignorantia est causa extranea, yel instrumentum externum quodam- 
modo et a voluntate nostra alienum, etsi in nobis. Quare commode 
Koster dicit di* Syuoiav, tanquam ejusmodi facta non per eum, qui 
agat, Bed ipsam per ignorantiam fiant. Sed ayvoovvra voulv : igno- 
rantem qtue ignorare non debemus (ut officia, bonum) dgere. Quid 
sit bonum et justum rectumque nescire est malsB voluntatis; et 
ejusmodi ignorantia non est extraneum aliquid a voluntate nostra 
alienum, sed principium internum et qualitas ejus ipsius qui agit. 
Occurrit idem discrimen in principio jurisperitorum : Ignorantia 
Juris nocet ; ignorantia fadi non nocet. 


or person made the object of the action; Merope, 
for example, did not know it was her own son she 
was killing. Or one may make a mistake in respect 
to an instrument, such as fancying that one's spear 
had a button on it. Or the purpose or tendency 
of the act might be good,^ as one wishing to save 
life might, through some misadventure, kill. Or one 
might strike harder than one wished, and so destroy 

The difference, therefore, between sinning hecatise of 
ignorance and sinning in ignoranee may be stated briefly 
thus: The first is strictly an act for which no other 
ultimate cause but ignorance can be assigned. The 
second will be found to arise from some other ultimate 
cause, as when a man kills another in a fit of drunken- 
ness. He was unconscious of what he was doing at the 
time ; but he is responsible nevertheless, if he was the 
cause of his own drunkenness — ^that is, if he became 
drunk voluntarily. A man is responsible for every act 
which is the result of any moral or mental condition 
which he might have avoided. 

Let us apply these considerations to the case before 
us. A man is in formal heresy, and therefore culpable, 
when he wilfully rejects the truth. But this is a state 
of mind which the Dean of Westminster cannot conceive 
possible. " It may be safely affirmed," he says, " that, 
in the only sense in which these words can have any 


meaning, no one ever did or ever can * wilfully reject 
the Catholic faitL'"* With equal plausibility So- 
crates maintained that no one could be wilfully vicious. 
And undoubtedly that opinion has an element of truth 
in it ; for ** if a perfectly clear intellectual conviction 
of the goodness of the end and of the necessity of the 
means is present to a man he cannot act otherwise than 
right." t So, too, it may be said that if a man has a 
perfectly clear intellectual apprehension of the truth, 
and an equally clear conviction of the necessity of em- 
bracing it, it is morally impossible that he should reject 
it. But, in both cases, the man may have incapaci- 
tated himself for this clear apprehension and conviction 
by a previous course of misconduct ; and therefore he 
is guilty of wilfully rejecting virtue or truth, though 
at the moment of rejection his vision of either may be 
obsdure and distorted. For let it be remembered that 
the intellect, no less than the feelings and affections, 
is capable of contracting bad habits, which need not, 
however, at all interfere with the soundness and acute- 
ness of it in general, though it may corrupt and disable 
the judgment upon particular subjects. But who can say 
of any heretic in particular that his rejection of the truth 
is of that fatal kind which excludes hope, because it 
denotes an incorrigible perversion of the moral and intel- 
lectual faculties? "This is life eternal," says our 

♦ • The Athanasian Creed,' pp. 94, 95. 

t Sir A. Grant's ' Essays on Aristotle,' p. 125. 

£ 2 


blessed Lord, " that they might know Thee, the only 
true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." Now 
if this is true, if life eternal consists in the knowledge of 
the Trinity in Unity and of the Incarnation, surely he 
who deliberately rejects these verities puts himself out- 
side the pale of salvation. And by a deliberate rejection 
I mean a rejection which might have been avoided if 
the man had made use of his opportunities. An in- 
telligent consent of the will is of the essence of any act 
of sin whether in the sphere of faith or in that of morals. 
Heathens, therefore, and in fact all who have never 
had the Catholic Faith placed before them in such a 
way that they had no valid excuse for rejecting it, are 
not touched by the " damnatory clauses " at all. The 
" damnatory clauses " apply to sinners only, and a 
sinner is a person who knowingly does wrong, and a 
man knowingly does wrong not merely who is con- 
scious of wrong-doing in the moment of transgres- 
sion, but who has reduced himself to a state of 
moral obliquity which impairs his vision of what 
is right. 

This seems to me such an elementary principle in 
morals that I find it hard to realize the state of mind 
of those who denounce it as an evasion. Dr. Swainson 
is passionate in his repudiation of the plea of "in- 
vincible ignorance," or "invincible prejudice." Very 
good. But how then does he explain our Lord's words, 
" The time cometh that whosoever killeth you will 


think that he doeth God service " ? What is the 
state of mind here indicated but one of "invincible 
prejudice," and therefore pardonable ? So, at least, 
thought a greater authority than Dr. Swainson — one 
who describes himself as having been before his con- 
version, " a blasphemer and a persecutor, and a man of 
overbearing insolence; but I obtained mercy hecauBe 
1 did it ignorarUly in urihdief'^ So invincible was 
the prejudice, that it required " a light from heaven, 
above the brightness of the sun," to dispel it. Not- 
withstanding the high authority of Dr. Swainson, then, 
I am inclined to think that the greatest of heathen 
philosophers and the most philosophic of inspired 
Apostles are safer guides to follow than he, and I shall 
accordingly still continue to believe that " involuntary 
ignorance or invincible prejudice " is a valid plea in 
cases of unbelief. 

The Dean of Westminster insists, with almost pas- 
sionate vehemence, that the whole Eastern Church, and 
divines like Bull and Pearson, are " doomed to ever- 
lasting perdition " by the Athanasian Creed : the 
former for denying that the Holy Ghost proceeds from 
the Son as well as from the Father, the latter for 
teaching the doctrine of the Son's subordination to the 
Father "even as to Divinity." It is impossible to 
know the Dean of Westminster, even slightly, without 
feeling some pain at the thought of being in opposition 


to one so genial and kind-hearted. But he is the last 
man in England who would think of deprecating 
adverse criticism on that score. He is very frank in 
the expression of his own opinions, and I am sure that 
he will appreciate the most unreserved frankness on 
the part of those who differ from him, as I do most 
sincerely, on this question. He will not be offended, 
then, if I take the liberty of expressing my humble 
opinion that his strong feeling against the Athanasian 
Creed has in some degree made him theologically 
colour-blind in all that relates to this controversy. 
How is it possible otherwise to explain his reiterated 
assertion that the Eastern Church and all who think 
with Bull and Pearson are "doomed to everlasting 
perdition " by those who believe the Athanasian Creed ? 
If the Dean's view is correct, not only is the whole 
Eastern Church ** doomed to everlasting perdition," 
but the whole Western Church as well ; nay, the author 
of the Creed has doomed himself to the fate of Bull 
and Pearson, for he teaches precisely the same doctrine 
of subordination which is taught by these two dis- 
tinguished divines, and which is, in fact, one of the 
truisms of Catholic theology. The doctrine is thus 
stated by Pearson : — 

"The third assertion, next to be demonstrated, is 
that the Divine essence which Christ had as the Word, 
before He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, He had 
not of Himself, but by communication from God the 


Father. For this is not to be denied, that there can 
be but one essence properly Divine, and so but one 
God of inCnite wisdom, power, and majesty ; that there 
can be but one person originally of Himself subsisting 
in that inlSnite Being, because a plurality of more 
persons so subsisting would necessarily infer a multi- 
plicity of Gods ; that the Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ is originally God, as not receiving His eternal 
being from any other. Wherefore it necessarily fol- 
loweth that Jesus Christ, who is certainly not the 
Father, cannot be a person subsisting in the Divine 
nature originally of Himself; and consequently, being 
we have already proved that He is truly and properly 
the Eternal God, He must be understood to have the 
Godhead communicated to Him by the Father, who is 
not only eternally, but originally, God. Ml things 
whatsoever the Father hath are mine, saith Christ ; be- 
cause in Him is the fulness of the Godhead, and more 
than that the Father cannot have; but yet in that 
perfect and dbsolide equality there is, notwithstanding, 
this disparity, that the Father hath the Godhead not 
from the Son, nor any other, whereas the Son hath it 
from the Father : Christ is the true God and eternal 
life ; but that He is so is from the Father : for as the 
Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son 
to have life in Himself, not by participation, but by 
communication. It is true our Saviour was so in the 
form of God that He thought it no robbery to be equal 


with God; but when the Jews sought to kill Him 
because He made Himsdf equal with God, He answered 
them, Verily, verily, I say vmto you, the Son can do 
nothing of Himself, hut what He seeth the Father do : by 
that connection of His operations showing the recep- 
tion of His essence ; and by the acknowledgment of 
His power professing His substance from the Father. 
From whence He who was equal, even in that equality 
oonfesseth a priority, saying, the Father is greater than 
I: the Son eqvxxJ in respect of His nature, the Father 
greater in reference to the communication of the God- 
head. I know Him, saith Christ, /or I am from Hin. 
And because he is from the Father, therefore He is 
called by those of the Nicene Council, in their Creed, 
Ood of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, 
The Father is God, but not of God ; Light, but not of 
Light ; Christ is God, but of God ; Light, but of Light. 
There is no difference or inequality in the natv/re or 
essence, because the same in both ; but the Father of our 
Lord Jesus Christ hath that essence of Himself, from 
none ; Christ hath the same not of Himself, but from 
Him. And being the Divine Nature, as it is absolutely 
immaterial and incorporeal, is also indivisible, Christ 
cannot have any part of it only communicated u/nto Him, 
hut the whole, by which he must be acknowledged co- 
essential, of the same substance, with the Father ; as 
the Council of Nice determined, and the ancient fathers 
before th' m taught. Hence appeareth the truth of 


those words of our Saviour, which raised a second 
motion in the Jews to stone him ; I and, the Father are 
one : where the plurality of the verb, and the neutrality 
of the noun, with the distinction of their persons, speak 
a perfect identity of their essence. And though Christ 
say, the Father ia in Me and I in Him ; yet withal he 
saith, I eame out from the Father ; by the former show- 
ing the Divinity of His essence, by the latter the 
origination of Himself." * 

And Hooker : — 

" By the gift of eternal generation Christ hath re- 
ceived of the Father one and in number the self-same 
substance, which the Father hath of Himself unreceived 
from any other. For every beginning is a father unto 
that which cometh of it ; and every offspring is a son 
unto that out of which it groweth. Seeing therefore 
the Father alone is originally that Deity which Christ 
originally is not (for Christ is God by being of God, 
light by issuing out of light), it followeth hereupon 
that whatsoever Christ hath common unto Him with 
His Heavenly Father, the same of necessity must be 
ffiven Him, hui naturally and eternally given, not be- 
stowed by way of benevolence and favour, as the other 
gifts both are. And therefore when the Fathers give 
out for a rule, that whatsoever Christ- is said in Scrip- 
ture to have received, the same we ought to apply only 
to the manhood of Christ ; their assertion is true of all 

♦ * On the Creed,' i., pp. 170-2. 


things which Christ hath received by grace, but to that 
which he hath received of the Father by eternal nativity 
or hirth it reacheth not."* 

-With this agrees the passage quoted by the Dean of 
Westminster from Bishop Bull : — 

"The Catholic Doctors, both before and after the 
Nicene Council, are unanimous in declaring that the 
Father is greater than the Son, even as to Divinity— 
i, e. not in virtue of any essential perfection, but alone in 
what may be called authority — that is, in point of 
origin, since the Son is from the Father, not the 
Father from the Son." 

If the question were one in which the Dean's feelings 
were not so strongly enlisted as they are in this, it 
could hardly have escaped him that the words which 1 
have marked by italics, in the quotation from Bishop 
Bull, are a complete answer to his objection ; for they 
show distinctly that the subordination of the Son to 
the Father, which Bishop Bull, in common with the 
whole Catholic Church, teaches, is not at all incon- 

* * Eccles. Polity,' b. v., liv., 2. It is evident that Hooker had 
no idea that in teaching the doctrine of the Son's subordination he 
was making himself amenable to the '* damnatory clauses " of the 
Athanasian Creed ; for he asks, ^ Is there in that confession of faith 
(i.e, Athanasian Cre^d) anything which doth not at all times edify 
and instruct the attentive hearer ? Or is our faith in the blessed 
Trinity a matter needless to be so oftentimes mentioned and opened 
in the principal part of that duty which we owe to God, our public 
prayer?" — B. v., ch, xlii., 12. 


sistent with the assertion of the Athanasian Greed, 
that " in this Trinity none is afore or after other, none 
is greater or less than another ; but the whole Three 
Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal." "In 
nature or any essential perfection" "none is afore or 
after other, none is greater or less than another." 
^ But in point of order the Father is " the fount of 
Deity " {Trrffr\ 0€6TrjToq)y and the Son and Holy Spirit 
derive their divinity from Him, as the stream is de- 
rived from the fountain and the ray from the sim. In 
this respect, and in this only, the Father may be called 
greater than the Son and Holy Spirit. But it is not 
in this respect that the Athanasian Creed asserts their 
perfect equality ; for it says, immediately before, that 
"the Father is made of none; neither created nor 
begotten. The Son is of the Father alone ; not made 
nor created, but begotten." Here is the very subor- 
dination on which Bishop Bull insists. " The Father 
is made of none," but the Son is of the Father, not in 
time, but in respect to derivation ; for, of course, the 
relations of the Persons of the Trinity to each other 
arfe eternal relations. In our finite experience a son is 
posterior to his father in point of time. But notions 
derived from temporal relations are obviously inap- 
plicable to a state of existence which is altogether 
independent of space and time. Both the Apostles' 
Creed and the Nicene, as well as Holy Scripture, plainly 
intimate that Fatherhood is an essential attribute of 


the first Person of the Blessed Trinitv. As He was al- 
ways Almighty, so He was always the Father of His only- 
begotten Son, who is therefore rightly called " the eternal 
Son " " begotten of His Father before all worlds." And 
thus the relation of God the Father to His coeval Son 
does not imply priority of existence, or inequality of 
power or glory, but simply a difference of order. 

I know how very difficult it is to express these 
things in language which shall be accurate and intel- 
ligible at the same time. "No tongue, how perfect 
soever it may appear, is a complete and perfect in- 
strument of human thought. From its very conditions 
every language must be imperfect. The human me- 
mory can only compass a limited complement of 
words ; but the data of sense, and still more the com- 
binations of the understanding, are wholly unlimited 
in number. No language can, therefore, be adequate 
to the ends for which it exists; all are imperfect."* 
If human language is thus imperfect when it deals 
with the ordinary conceptions of the human mind, 
how much more incompetent must it be to give 
articulate expression to mysteries which the intellect 
of man cannot grasp ? The truths of eternity are far 
too vast to be capable of being envisaged in the forms 
of time, and even the profoundest minds, when they 
make the attempt, are, at best, like Moses in the cleft 

* Sir W. Hamilton's * Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic,' iv., 
p. 143. 


of the rock on Horeb, not able to behold the " face/' 
but only the "back parts'* of the vision which is 
graciously vouchsafed to them. "Divine truth," as 
has been well observed by a divine who is less known 
than he deserves to be, "hath its humiliation and 
. exanition, as well as its exaltation. Divine truth 
becomes many times in Scripture incarnate, debasing 
itself to assume our rude conceptions, that so it might 
converse more freely with us, and infuse its Divinity in 
us ; God having been pleased herein to manifest Him- 
self not more jealous of His own glory than He is (as I 
may say) zealous of our good. No^ non hdhemus aures 
sicvi Deus habet linguam. If He should speak in the 
language of eternity, who could understand Him, or 
interpret His meaning? Or if he should have de- 
clared His truth to us only in the way of the purest 
abstraction that human souls are capable of, how 
should then the more rude and illiterate sort of men 
have been able to apprehend it? Truth is content, 
when it comes into the world, to wear our mantles, to 
learn our language, to conform itself, as it were, to our 
dress and fashions." * But our dress never fits it, and 
can at best do no more than give a faint outline of its 
form. Yet the dress is necessary, for without it we 
should have no idea at all of those great realities 
which lie behind this shifting scene of fleeting phe- 

* * Select Discourses ' of John Smith, the Cambridge Platonist, 
p. 173. 


nomena. God the Father and His Eternal Son are 
not related to each other as a human father and son 
are related; and yet the human relationship may be 
the nearest approach to the truth of which our feeble 
minds are capable. 

I shall continue to use the Athanasian Creed, then, 
without any fear that I am thereby consigning " to 
everlasting perdition " Bull and Pearson, who are in 
full agreement with the Church universal in teaching 
the perfect equality of the Father and the Son in all 
essential attributes, save only that which is peculiar to 
each, namely. Fatherhood and Sonship. In the Divine 
Essence, which is common to the Three Persons, there 
is no inequality ; but in their interior relation to each 
other there is a subordination of order. 

Equally untenable, I venture to think, is Dean 
Stanley's assertion that the whole Eastern Church is 
doomed to ** perish everlastingly," if the Athanasian 
Creed is true. The diflference between the Eastern 
Church and the West on the vexed question of the 
FUioque is clearly a diflference of statement, not of 
doctrine. It all turns on the meaning of the word 
" procession," which the Easterns use in one sense, and 
the Westerns in another; so that what the former 
deny is not what the latter aflSrm, and vice versa. The 
phrase is manifestly equivocal, as the logicians say, 
and there are senses in which the Greeks would accept 
it without hesitation. They hold, as do the Westerns, 


that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone 
with respect to that Personality which is the cattse of 
the Trinity ; but they admit that He proceeds from the 
Son also in respect of that common Essence of Deity, 
which is numerically one in the Three Persons, but 
which the Holy Spirit receives from the Person of the 
Father as the cause. 

Again, it may be said that the Holy Ghost " pro- 
ceedeth from the Father and the Son " in this way : 
from the Father alone in respect of His own Per- 
sonality, or origin * as a Person, but from the Son also 
in respect of His Essence considered apart— I mean 
apart by an abstraction of human thought, not as a 
theological reality. 

A third sense in which the Greeks would admit that 
the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son 
is in respect of temporal mission. The Son s^ncJs the 
Holy Ghost from the Father, and therefore the pro- 
cession is from both the Father and the Son, though in 
different senses. 

In short, what the Greeks are anxious to protect is 
the Monarchia of the Trinity, and they fear that by 
admitting the FUioque they would sanction the notion 

* It is scarcely necessary to explain that the word "origin" is 
used here, and elsewhere in this connection, as indicating derivation, 
not beginning of existence ; as a flame is the origin of the light 
which it diffuses without being therefore anterior to the light, or as 
heat derives its origin from fire without necessarily, coming after it 
in the order of time. 


that there axe two apx^ ^ ^'^ Trinity, or that there 
was something besides the Three distinct Persons and 
the one Common Essence, namely, some peculiar 
Essence belonging to the Father and the Son apart 
from the Holy Spirit. These are two errors which the 
whole of the Western Church would repudiate as 
heartily as the Eastern ; and if both sides would only 
act on Dr. Newman's advice, and define instead of 
disputing, the controversy about the FUioque would 
speedily come to a peaceful end. 

The Greek Church, therefore, would not be touched 
by the " damnatory clauses " of the Athanasian Creed, 
even if we were to transfer to it the FUioque of the 
Nicene Creed, for it would still remain a question 
whether the doctrine aflSrmed in the one case was 
denied in the other. But, as a matter of fact, the 
FUioque does not exist in the Athanasian Creed. The 
words of the Creed are, " The Holy Ghost is of (a not 
ex) the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor 
created, nor begotten, but proceeding." No Greek 
doctrine comes in coljision with this statement. Even 
Mr. Ffoulkes* admits that "it is literally moderation 
itseK. Few advocates of the Latin doctrine would 
have been content to stop where it stops ; few Greeks 
. . . would have declined going as far. The Holy 
Ghost is described as * of the Father and of the Son,' 
first — the preposition used being a, not ex : and then 

* * On the Athanaaian Creed,' p. 263. 


* neither made^ nor created, nor begotten, but pro- 
ceeding.' The copula, rigidly supplied in the two 
previous verses, is altogether wanting in this. The 
words may imply, but they certainly stop short of 
asserting, that *the Holy Ghost proceeds from the 
Son ' in the Latin sense, * ex Patre Filioque procedit.' " 
And yet Mr. Ffoulkes has written a book of 374 pages 
to prove that this very Creed, which ** is moderation 
itself," and to which " few Greeks " would object, was 
wickedly and fraudulently imposed on Christendom by 
Charlemagne and two of the ablest divines and best 
men of their age, for no other purpose than to cause 
a schism between East and West ! But I am not con- 
cerned with Mr. Ffoulkes's historical vagaries here. 
His own book contains abundant materials for its own 
refutation, and his wild theory has already been suffi- 
ciently disposed of by competent scholars. What I 
wish to point out is that a writer, whose antipathy to 
the Athanasian Creed amounts to a kind of craze, is 
obliged to confess that its '^ damnatory clauses " do not 
touch the Greek Church at all. I do trust, therefore, 
that we shall hear no more of the Greek Church being 
"doomed to everlasting perdition" by those who 
advocate the retention of the Athanasian Creed in its 
present position. 

But, after all, what is meant by " perishing ever- 
lastingly"? The late Mr. Charles Buxton objected, 



as one of the Bitual Commissioners, to the Athanasian 
Creed, because, among other things, " it commits the 
Church of England to the doctrine, long since ex- 
ploded, that error is a crime punishable with horrible 
torments." Now I am not prepared to deny that 
error, if wiKul, does entail " horrible torments." It is 
often so in this life, and I see no reason why it should 
be otherwise in the world unseen. But, on the other 
hand, wilful sin, whether in faith or morals, brings 
its own punishment. God is only indirectly the 
author of the sinner's torments by having given him 
a constitution which, in virtue of free will, is capable 
of being ruined ; and in that ruin lies the misery of 
the lost. But it is easy to see that what Mr. Buxton 
had before his mind was the image of a vengeful 
Miltonic Deity, " hurling headlong .... down to 
bottomless perdition" the erring victims of His im- 
placable wrath. 

This, I need hardly say, is not the doctrine of the 
Church, however individual writers may here and 
there have caricatured her teaching. When the 
Pharisees asked our Lord, " When the kingdom of 
God should come ? " He answered, " The kingdom 
of God is toithin you!* With equal truth it may be 
said that the kingdom of Satan is also wUhm us. 
Each man has within himself, during the period of 
his probation, the elements of his own final condition.' 
His character is developed from within, and outward 


circumstances are but the passive materials on which 
it feeds. They are necessary to its growth, but they 
do not determine the direction in which it shall grow ; 
that is the province of man's free will, which makes 
him master of his circumstances, not their slave. In 
this respect man differs essentially from all else that 
lives upon this earth. He possesses a conscious, 
seK-determining power, and can shape all external 
influences after the fashion of the governing principle 
which rules his conduct from within. In one sense, 
indeed, all organic existences may be said to have 
a self-determining power. Every form of created life 
in the universe is built upon a certain type, and 
aspires, consciously or unconsciously, to some ideal 
as the final cause of its existence ; and any life, from 
an acorn to an Archangel, which fails to realize the 
end of its being, may truly be said to " perish ever- 
lastingly." It happened to me, not long ago, to 
wander through a forest by the sea, in which all 
the trees were misshapen and stunted. They had 
been exposed to the withering blasts of an eastern 
ocean during their period of growth, and so they were 
not able to reach the perfection of which their nature 
was potentially capable. They had passed their 
probation, they had arrived at maturity, and had 
no longer any possibility of amendment. The tem- 
pest might break or root them up; but no force of 
man or nature could ever again change their shapes 

F 2 


without destroying them. They "perished everlast- 

Have we not here a parable of human life ? Man's 
soul, like a tree, or like the body which clothes it, 
has its period of growth, and tends to a state of 
unchanging fixedness. It is as true of him as of the 
trees of the forest that the influences of a compara- 
tively short period determine the character of a 
period indefinitely long. Exposure to a demoralizing 
set of influences for a giyen time may fix the cha- 
racter so irrevocably in a wrong groove that, in 
Scriptural language, it is "impossible to renew it 
again unto repentance." And, on the other hand, 
perseverance in the right way will, in due time, 
impress upon the human will such a character of strict 
conformity to God's will, that it can no longer be 
tempted to evil; "sin will no more have dominion 
over it," and a fall will be impossible. 

But the analogy of the vegetable kingdom does 
not carry us very fax. There is a vital diflerence 
between the development of a tree and that of human 
character. For the tree is at the mercy of sur- 
rounding circumstances; it cannot move out of its 
place or protect itseK against the influences of the 
eastern breeze. But man can rise superior to cir- 
cumstances. He can " work out his own salvation," 
and can turn even his temptations into blessings. No 
combination of circumstances, however hostile, can 


injure his true self without the concurrence of his 
own free and presiding will. He is thus the author 
of his own final destiny, whatever that destiny may 
be. Qod damns none of His creatures to eyerlasting 
perdition. He shuts the door of heaven against no 
one who has not previously closed it on himself. In 
making man capable of everlasting bliss He has 
necessarily made him capable of everlasting perdition. 
God Almighty Himself, with reverence be it said, 
could not create a being who should be capable of 
virtue without leaving him, at the same time, capable 
of sin. For virtue implies a free will, and a free will 
implies the power of choice, and liberty of choice 
implies the possibility of making a wrong choice, and 
a wrong choice, confirmed into a habit, may result in 
such a moral paralysis as shall make recovery impos- 
sible. The man who has thus reduced himself to a 
state of 'incorrigibility," to use Aristotle's phrase, 
^ finds no place of repentance," not because God 
refuses to be gracious, but because the perverted will 
no longer possesses the power of making a right choice. 
Is it not strange that, in an age when the fixity and 
invariability of Nature's laws is preached as almost a 
new Gh>8pel, men should forget — ^and scientific men are 
among the chief offenders — that human character, 
too, has its laws, and that its laws are — what the 
mechanical laws of the Universe are not — in a certain 
degree independent of the will of God ? There is no 


reason at all in the nature of things why we should 
confidently expect the continuance of the present order 
of things in the natural world. Apart from faith in 
God, our only ground of confidence is in the subjective 
impression made on our imaginations by the imme- 
morial uniformity of the laws which govern our system. 
It would not contradict any of the laws of thought if 
we were told that there were other systems similar to 
ours, but governed by an entirely diflerent system of 
laws* But we cannot conceive the possibility of a 
virtuous being who never had any freedom of choice, or 
of a really free will which could not rebel against its 
Maker for ever and make itself miserable for ever in 

Undoubtedly God might have created intelligent 
beings who should obey Him unceasingly under a law 
of mechanical necessity. But He could not have 
created beings capable of yielding Him a moral service 
without bestowing on them the awful gift of a free will 
— ^the power to do or to forbear. The lower creation, 
through all its ranks, obeys its Maker's will. ^-^ He hath 
given them a law which shall not be broken," and 
therefore " they continue this day according to Thine 
ordinance, for all things serve Thee." They have no 
power of doing otherwise ; they cannot choose but to 
obey. Nor are the lower animals an exception. Their 
movements' may appear more free than the motions oi 
the heavenly bodies or the changes of the vegetable 


kingdom. But, after all, they have only the semblance 
of a free will, not the retdity. They have no reasoning 
faculty properly so called; they cannot analyze or 
generalize. They can remember in a dull passive way, 
but they cannot recollect ; they cannot gather up the 
impressions of the past and make them available for 
the purposes of the future. In fact, they have neither 
future nor past — ^no lively memories or bitter regrets 
connected with the one, no hopes or prospects connected 
with the other. They do not contemplate themselves 
at all. They live in the present, and have no thought 
beyond the passing hour. Man can impress his will 
upon them in a measure. He may improve them in 
breed, as flowers and trees may be improved by culti- 
vation. But there is a certain point beyond which he 
cannot train them ; for they have no real freedom, no 
self-determining power ; and they are consequently 
incapable of progress. Each of them begins life as if 
the first of its race, deriving no advantage from the 
experience of its predecessors, and leaving no legacy of 
acquirements to those which follow. They " have no 
understanding," as the Psalmist says, and are therefore 
" held with bit aad bridle." 

But man is the subject of a moral Government 
whose laws he may transgress if he will. His loving 
Father strives to attract him. He places before him 
life and death, and bids him choose life, and gives him- 
grace sufficient for his needs. He does everything, in 


fSact, to win him^ short of compulsion, because compul- 
sion would be incompatible with freedom, and there- 
fore with virtue. " I will inform thee and teach thee 
in the way wherein thou shalt go, and I will guide thee 
wtih mine eye" not "with bit and bridle," like the 
lower animals "which haye no understanding." If, 
however, we persist in being like the horse and mule, 
there is no help for it; Grod leads us aoljimth Hie eye; 
there is no bit and bridle to restrain us; our wills 
are free and we may go to ruin. 

True freedom, however, does not mean the power to 
choose good or eviL So long as the will is capable 
of vacillating between right and wrong it is not really 
free any more than a limb is free which is shaken by 
paralysis. A man is truly free when his wUl is only 
attracted by legitimate objects, and " sin has no more 
dominion over him." God could, of course, have 
created intelligent beings unalterably fixed on the side 
of right from the moment of their creation. But a 
will which never had a choice would not be free — would 
not, in fact, be will at alL It is necessary to our con- 
ception of a created free will that it should start with 
the power of choosing one of two opposite courses — ^good 
or evil — and then become, by persevering efforts, so 
self-determined in the right line as to lose all possibility 
of doing wrong. When the wiU has reached this stage 
it can no longer be tempted to choose eviL The man 
acts rightly spontaneously and without effort, and his 


inability to do wrong does not arise from any extraneous 
restraint, but from the fact that he is become '^ a law 
unto himself." He has disciplined his will into perfect 
and habitual conformity with the will of God, and it is 
therefore as impossible any longer to tempt him from 
the right way a« it is to « renew again unto repentance " 
the incorrigibly selfish. To such a soul God's service 
is no longer irksome or difficult; it is "perfect free- 
dom," as one of our collects beautifully expresses it ; 
just as God Himself is the freest of all beings, though 
it would be blasphemy to suppose Him capable of 
doing wrong. Liability to error is, on the face of it, a 
proof that the will is, so far, imperfect, not that it is 
in a state of healthy freedom. 

I may seem to be insisting unnecessarily on what 
every well-educated person will at once recognize as a 
truism in morals. It ^ a truism ; but it is very hard 
to get a certain cla«s of minds to grasp even a truism 
when it cuts across their prejudices. There is, for 
instance, a violent article against the Athanasian 
Creed in the April number of the * Contemporary 
Keview,' which denies peremptorily the truisms on 
which I have been insisting above, and uses them, 
in fact, as one of the chief arguments against the 
Athanasian Creed. The writer, who signs himself 
" Anglicanus," animadverts on "a common argument, 
recently adduced by the late Archbishop Longley, to 


the effect that the same word ^eternal' (aMovios) is 
applied to both states of the departed, and that if 
heaven is * everlasting/ so must the other state be." 
"The answer,'^ **Anglicaiius" thinks, "is not very clear 
or satisfying, if we assume that the good are fixed in 
heaven for ever by an immutable decree^ and that 
fallii^ from it is an impossibility. The very essence 
of spirit is freedom, and we cannot be secured an 
'eternal heaven' by any sort of mechanical fixation. 
An eternity of either virtue or blessedness cannot be 
guaranteed to us — it must depend on ourselves. Are 
we not told of certain * angels who kept not their first 
estate, but left their own habitation'? A fall may 
be improbable, but it cannot be impossible so long as 
mind and free choice remain." 

This passage reveals a great deaL It shows, among 
other things, that much of the feeling against the 
Athanasian Creed is really based on the grossest igno- 
rance of the very rudiments of moral science. Here is 
a gentleman, evidently of education, who comes forward 
to enlighten the public on the Athanasian Greed, and 
he delivers himseK of an Essay which proves to demon- 
stration that of theology and Christian ethics he simply 
knows nothing. With the innocent ingenuousness iA 
ignorance he coolly propounds a doctrine which strikes 
at the very foundations of both theology and morality. 
For if "the very essence of spirit is freedom," and 
freedom means an endless liability to sin, we have no 


real security against the final triumph of evil over 
Almighty Grod Himself. Evil may eventually become 
good, and good evil. The " great gulf fixed " between 
the abode of the lost and that of the blessed may at 
length be passed, and the inhabitants of heaven may 
exchange places with the denizens of heU. Surely to 
state such a theory is to refute it ; yet it is on a par 
with the reasoning of the whole Essay. What is to be 
thought of a reasoner who actually thinks that the 
doctrine of eternal perdition is confuted by the article 
of the Creed which declares "the forgiveness of sins " ? 
" Observe," he says, " to what puny, and pitiful dimen- 
sions this glorious clause of the Creed has been 
reduced by the progress of dogmatic development. 
* Forgiveness of sins ' is limited — to this world and to 
this life ! We must have our pardon sealed in heaven 
before we go hence and be no more seen. Forgiveness 
of sin, then, is a thing of time and space ; it is a 
geographical consideration. It is accorded only within 
the narrowest limits. That which results from, and is an 
expression of, the unchanging mind and nature of Gt)d 
is a thing * subject to all the skyey influences.' The 
temperature changes ; there is a sudden access of frost 
or cold, the man dies ; from that moment the hitherto 
relenting Deity, who wooed the sinner with the sweetest 
tones of mercy and the fullest assurance of pardon, is 
changed on the sudden, and is henceforth and for ever 
to him as deaf as the wind, as inexorable as the roaring 


sea. The Eternal is subject to Time ! the Omnipotent 
is limited to a poor comer of space I These considera- 
tions are enough to disprove the whole doctrine, and 
show it to be but a fable. According to the current 
doctrine, what is true of the Almighty to-day may be 
false to-morrow. He is merciful one day, inexorable 
the next." And then " Anglicanus " thinks that such 
prayers as the following : — " God, whose natv/re cmd 
property is ever to have mercy cmd to forgive" ;* or such 
Psalms as speak of God's mercy ** end/nring for ever^* 
— are plainly inconsistent with the notion of any 
creature perishing everlastingly. And he denounces 
the Athanasian Creed accordingly. It teaches "a 
doctrine worthy only of the priests of Moloch ! " and 
" an inward revulsion seizes the minds of all who hear 
it ; one's gorge rises at the very name of it." 

It would have been more modest on the part of 
** Anglicanus " not to have assumed that all other 
gorges are in the same state of morbid irritation as his 
own. What authority has he for asserting that " an 
inward revulsion seizes the minds of all who hear " the 
Athanasian Creed ? The multitude of petitions lately 
presented to Convocation in its favour is a curious com- 
mentary on the wild declamation of "Anglicanus." 
Who he is I know not, except that he is not the 
distinguished ecclesiastic who sometimes assumes the 
worn de plume of "Anglicanus." But whoever the 

* The italics are not mine. 


'' Anglicanus" of the ^Contemporary Review* is, he has 
evidently yet to learn the rudiments of Christian 
ethics. As a matter of fact, our Lord has said that 
there is a sin which is '' never forgiveuy neither in this 
world, nor in that which is to come." But I do not 
dwell on this. Let it suffice to point out that '* Angli- 
canus '' misses the whole point of the question which 
he has discussed with an intemperate zeal which cer- 
tainly is '' not according to knowledge." The question 
is not whether God's " mercy endureth for ever," but 
whether the sinner will for ever remain amenable to 
its influence. God, of course, remains ever the same 
—"the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.*' His 
love is not stinted by the sins of His creatures, nor 
changed to hate by the fact of their death. But, on 
the other hand, Divine love, in its essence and manifes- 
tation, implies freedom in those with whom it has to 
do. 'Its power is such that wherever there is the least 
germ of moral life it can develop it. But is it not 
possible for man to destroy this germ so as to retain 
no elements within him upon which the love of God 
can act ? Does not the mystery of human freedom 
imply the possibility, at least, that some may be 
eternally lost ? Is it not a fact of experience that men 
do actually resist the holiest strivings of Divine love on 
earth? And if on earth, why not in the world un- 
seen ? If the human will remain essentially the same 
(and if it do not, the man is no longer the same 


person), why should it be impossible for it to continue 
its resistance to Divine grace ad injinitvm 1 Either it 
can do so, or one of the essential elements in man's 
constitution is destroyed, and he ceases, in fact, to be 
man. What use is forgiveness to the impenitent pro- 
digal who still prefers the " riotous living " in the " far 
country " to the feast in his Father's house ? The sore 
distress which softens one heart may harden another. 
K one prodigal is constrained to cry, " I will arise and 
go to my Father," another may assert his freedom by 
persevering in his evil ways. Of what avail is it, then, 
that God's " nature and property is ever to have mercy 
to forgive," if the sinner remains still obdurate in his 
sin ? Can he do so ? K not, his liberty is a myth, and 
he is not a responsible being; from which it follows 
that, as he is not capable of sin, he is not susceptible of 
forgiveness. If, on the contrary, he can offer an endless 
resistance to the Divine will, he may make himself the 
victim of a never-ending misery — that is to say, he can 
" perish everlastingly." But in that case, he is him- 
self, and not God, the sole cause of his own ruin. 

This doctrine appears to me very simple and reason- 
able, and not hard to be understood; and I am 
therefore all the more surprised that a periodical 
usually so dispassionate and acute as the * Westminster 
Eeview' should have offered to its readers the fol- 
lowing caricature of the doctrine of the Fall and its 
consequences : — " God was in the beginning, as He is 


stilly omnipotent, onmibenevolent, omniscient, prescient. 
He said, ^ I will create a being whom I shall call man. 
I could create him, if I so wished, not only perfect, 
but free from all risk of imperfection to come. But I 
shall not do this. I shall create him with a faculty 
for disobeying me, which will be a flaw in him. I 
know beforehand that he will exercise this faculty, 
and when he does I will consign him to endless misery 
and perdition.' "* 

I should like to ask the writer of this article whether 
he believes that man is really free to make a moral 
choice. If he admits as much, he cannot deny that 
the Fall of man is a possible consequence of his 
freedom, and that such a fall may have its consumma- 
tion in ^* endless misery and perdition." But to such a 
doom God " consigns " no one. Certainly He need not 
have created such a being as man at all. But having 
created such a being, I should like to know how even 
" Omniscience," " Omnipotence," and " Omnibenevo- 
lence " combined could have prevented the catastrophe, 
with all its consequences, which is commonly called 
the Fall. No doubt, God could have created a being 
"free from all risk of imperfection to come." But 
such a being would not be man. The quarrel of the 
* Westminster Eeviewer,' if he would only be logical, 
is not with the doctrine of the Fall and of endless 
misery, but with the creation of moral agents at all. 
♦ * Weatminater Review,' April, 1872, p. 382. 


Once grant the existence of an intelligent moral being, 
and all the rest follows, as Bishop Butler has it, " by- 
way of natural consequence." At all events, man, 
with his liability to sin and capacity of misery, is a 
fact which Theology has not made, but found; and 
those who quarrel with the account of the matter 
which Theology furnishes are bound to give an 
account of their own, which shall be more in harmony 
with reason and with facts. Until they have done so, 
I shall continue to believe that Christian Theology 
supplies not only the most rational, but the only 
rational, theory of man's origin and destiny. 

But this is by the way, for I am not concerned here 
with the professed impugners of the Christian Faith, 
but with those whose repugnance to the Athanasian 
Creed arises, as I humbly venture to think, from a 
hasty misunderstanding of its "damnatory clauses." 
Their error, if I may presume to say so, is twofold : 
they forget, in the first place, that the " damnatory 
clauses " cannot possibly apply to any but such as 
wilfully deprave the Faith, since the conscious consent 
of the will is essential to any act of sin ;* and, in the 
second place, they imagine that everlasting perdition 
means a punishment inflicted arbitrarily from without 
by an angry God, instead of being, as I believe, the 

* *' A state or act, that has not its origin in the will, may be 
calamity, deformity, disease, or mischief; but a sin it cannot be." — 
Coleridge's ' Aids to Reflection,' p. 215. 


natural consequence of inward dispositions on the part 
of man. "The happiness which good men shall 
partake is not distinct from their God-like nature. 
Happiness and holiness are but two several notions of 
one thing. Hell is rather a nature than a place, and 
Heaven cannot be so well-defined by anything without 
us as by something within us."* The incorrigible 
sinner is in hell wherever his local habitation may 
happen to be, for he carries the undying worm and the 
unquenchable fire within him. Material flames, if ap- 
plicable at all to an immaterial being, could add but 
little to the agony of " a mind diseased." The imma- 
terial part of man is, after all, the real seat of pain, 
and we know that even in this life a powerful mental 
emotion will make a man insensible to the pangs of 
bodily wounds. In the aberration of noble endowments, 
in the anarchy of a ruined constitution, in the con- 
suming restlessness of matured selfishness — "seeking 
rest «md finding none " — in the remembrance of joys 
that might have been, but now can be no more,t a 
soul abandoned to the intolerable tyranny of its own 
" will-w6rsbip " (tfcXo^pi/o-Kcta) will find its surest and 

* Mr. John Smith's ' Select Discourses.' ' On the Happiness and 
Nobleness of True Religion.' Edition of 1673. This passage is 
amplified and marred in subsequent editions. 

t " . . . . nessun maggior dolore 
Che ricordarsi del tempo felioe 
Nella miseria." — Dante, Inferno^ caijt. v. 121. 



most terrible hell. This view of the self-engendered 
endless misery of the impenitent sinner is put with 
remarkable force and clearness by a writer who will not 
be accused of undue reverence for traditional views of 
religion. " In the present state,** says Channing,* ** we 
find that the mind has an immense power over the 
body, and, when diseased, often communicates disease 
to its sympathizing companion. I believe that in the 
future state the mind will have this power of con- 
forming its outward frame to itseK incomparably more 
than here. We must never forget that, in that worW, 
mind or character is to exert an all-powerful sway ; and 
accordingly it is rational to believe that the corrupt 
and deformed mind which wants moral goodness, or a 
spirit of concord with God and with the Universe, will 
create for itself as its fit dwelling a deformed body, 
which will also want concord or harmony with all things 
around it. Suppose this to exist, and the whole crea- 
tion which now amuses may become an instrument of 
suflTering, fixing the soul with a more harrowing con- 
sciousness on itself. You know that even now, in 
consequence of certain derangements of the nervous 
system, the beautiful light gives acute pain, and sounds 
which once delighted us become shrill and distressing. 
How often this excessive irritableness of the body has 
its origin in moral disorders perhaps few of us suspect. 

♦ Works, vol iy., pp. 164-166. 


I apprehend, indeed, that we should be all amazed 
were we to learn to what extent the body is continually 
incapacitated for enjoyment, and made susceptible of 
suffering, by the sins of the heart and life. That 
delicate part of our organization on which sensibility, 
pain, and pleasure depend, is, I believe, peculiarly alive 
ta the touch of moral evil. How easily, then, may 
the mind hereafter frame the future body according to 
itself, so that, in proportion to its vice, it will receive 
through its organs and senses impressions of gloom 
which it will feel to be the natural productions of its 
own depravity, and which will in this way give a 
terrible energy to conscience ! For myself, I see no 
need of a local hell for the sinner after death. When 
I reflect how, in the present world, a guilty mind has 
power to deform the countenance, to undermine health, 
to poison pleasure, to darken the fairest scenes of 
nature, to turn prosperity into a curse, I can easily 
understand how, in the world to come, sin, working 
without obstruction according to its own nature, should 
spread the gloom of a dungeon over the whole crea- 
tion, and, wherever it goes, should turn the universe 
into a hell." 

This is a terrible commentary on S. Paul's Eesur- 
rection doctrine : " To every seed his own body." 
Every seed has its own specific life, which builds 
around it an outward organization suited to its peculiar 
character. The human frame is made up of material 

a 2 


particles identical in kind with those which compose 
the bodies of the brutes that perish, and the difference 
of organization is in virtue of the different vital prin- 
ciples which energize from within. Man was created 
in the image of his God ; but if he subordinates the 
spiritual to the animal part of his nature, does it not 
stand to reason that the development of his character 
will be in a brutish direction, and that the image of 
Christ will be changed into that of the sin to which he 
clung during the period of his probation, and which 
now clings to him like the poisoned shirt of Nessus? 
Death does not break the continuity of human life; it 
merely disengages the man's true self from the 
restraints and environments of this world, and reveals 
him just as he is — transformed into the image of his 
Saviour or into that of the Fiend. Thus viewed old age 
is very instructive. As the bodily functions decay and 
the intellectual powers become relaxed, the genuine 
character of the man begins to show itself, and we 
behold either the moroseness and peevishness of matured 
selfishness, no longer kept in check by the artificial 
restraints of a calculating prudence ; or, on the other 
hand, the glory of the immortal life reflected on silver 
hairs, and lighting up the countenance with a serene 
beauty and a benign cheerfulness which are not of this 

This is, in fact, the true import of the Greek word 
(Kpto-is) which is sometimes translated "judgment," and 

THE WORD Kpwrts, 85 

sometimes " damnation," in our English Version. It 
really means a separation or division, and would not be 
inappropriately translated by its English equivalent, 
wim. What do we mean by a crisis? Do we not 
mean the arrival of antagonistic elements at such a 
pass that a separation is imminent, and one or other 
must triumph ? A fever has reached its crisis when 
the principle of life and the principle of decay are face 
to face and one of them is about to obtain the mastery. 
A debate in Parliament has reached its crisis when the 
division takes place, and the members file off to the 
right hand and to the left of the presiding judge, each 
following out to their legitimate results the principles 
which have ruled his political conduct. And what is 
the "judgment " (#cp«rts) of the Last Day but the crisis 
of humanity, the final separation of the antagonistic 
elements of moral good and moral evil? The wheat 
and the tares grow together till the harvest ; the sheep 
and the goats live together till the Great White Throne 
is set. And then will take place the irrevocable sepa- 
ration. Humanity will cleave asunder, and every 
child of Adam will be drawn, by the force of an irresist- 
ible attraction, to that sphere of b'ght or darkness for 
which he has prepared himself here. "Where your 
treasure is, there will your heart be also." That is 
a universal law of human nature. The heart cannot 
be separated from its trea.8ure, and if the treasure is 
laid up where selfishness reigns supreme the heart 


cannot choose but follow it. The irreclaimable sinner 
is dragged to hell by the fierce relentless tyranny of 
his own unbridled passions. Like attracts like^ and as 
surely as the magnet attracts the needle so surely will 
hell, the kingdom of supreme selfishness, draw to itself 
all souls in whom self is the dominant motive. ^' In 
order to direct the view aright," says an old writer, " it 
behooves that the beholder should have made himself 
congenerous and similar to the object beheld. Never 
could the eye have beheld the sun had not its essence 
been soliform — preconfigured to light by a similarity 
of essence to that of light. Neither can a soul not 
beautiful within attain to an intuition and enjoyment 
of beauty." Heaven, so far from attracting, would 
repel all whose dispositions are not heavenly. The 
destiny of every human soul at last is to " go to his own 
place " — ^to that home, whether of misery or bliss, where 
its treasures are laid up. Aaid this destiny is some- 
times fixed irrevocably, for nations and for individuals, 
by what men ignorantly call trifles. In the conflict 
of virtue and vice all may be doubtful up to a certain 
point; then a crisis is reached when one single act, 
apparently of slight significance, consolidates, a series 
of previous acts into an unalterable character, and the 
man or the commimity is lost for ever. A while ago 
heaven was possible; now there is the ** great gulf 
fixed " which cannot be passed. Do we not sometimes 

THE WORD KpMTis. 87 

see shadows of these terrible realities cast athwart this 
lower world ? A nation, a church, a man, is bidden, 
like Hercules in the fable of Prodicus, to choose, once 
for all, one of two courses ; and a wrong choice having 
been deliberately made, retreat is found to be impos- 
sible ; there is "no place of repentance, though sought 
carefully with tears." 

" Once to every man and nation oomes the moment to decide. 
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side. 
Some great cause, God*s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or 

Parts the goats upon the left hand and the sheep upon the right ; 
And the choice goes by for ever 'twixt that darkness and that 


But many, probably most, of those who dislike the 
Athanasian Creed would admit all this in the case of 
moral offences. They would admit that deliberate viola- 
tions of the moral law may entail endless misery on the 
offender.* But they do not seem to see that it is really 

* The Dean of Westminster seems to deny this. "There are 
many severe sentences in Scripture," he says ; " but there is none 
which says even of murderers or of hypocrites, ^wJiosoever is a 
murderer, whosoever is a hypocrite, shall ivithout doubt perish ever^ 
lastingly*^ Surely this is a hasty assertion. What does the Dean 
say to the following passages : — 

** Whoso hateth his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no 
murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." — (1 John iii. 15.) 

The loss of eternal life is perdition, and it is this perdition 
which "the disciple whom Jesus loved" predicates of everyone 
who is a murderer even in thought His assertion is therefore 


as reprehensible to reject any part of the contents of 
Bevelation as it is to reject any part of the moral law. 
They cannot understand that persistence in heresy can 
have any vital influence on the final condition of one 
whose moral conduct is, in other respects, irreproach- 
able ; and they believe, though they shrink from cloth- 
ing their thoughts in words, that, after all, it does not 
very much matter what a man believes, so long as 
he leads a good and honest life. This view has been 

equivalent to saying, " whosoever is a murderer shall perish ever- 

Again the same Apostle says : — 

'' The fearful (i. e, moral cowards) and unbelieving, and the 
abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and 
idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which 
bumeth with fire and brimstone ; which is the seoond death." — 
(Rev. xxi. 8.) 

" Without (the heavenly city) are dogs, and sorcerers, and whore- 
mongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and 
maketh a lie." — (Rev. xxii. 15.) 

What is this but another way of saying, ** Whosoever is a mur- 
derer, whosoever is a hypocrite, shall perish everlastingly"? And 
it is remarkable, too, that ^ unbelievers " are placed in the same 
category as murderers. But of that more anon. Is not the Dean of 
Westminster obliged to make the same qualifications and reserva- 
tions, in passages like these, which he peremptorily repudiates in the 
case of the Athanasian Greed? Are all murderers, and idolaters, 
and liars, doomed to everlasting perdition ? Do not these passages 
mean all murderers, idolaters, and liars as such — that is, all those 
who sin with their eyes open, and persist in their sin? If these 
explanations are admissible and natural in the case of Holy Scripture, 
why should they be dismissed as " evasions " when applied to the 
Athanasian Creed ? But I shall have more to say on this {oint 


very neatly expressed by Pope in the well-known 
lines : — 

" For modes of faith let graceless zealots fights 
His can't be wrong whose life is m the right ; 
For forms of government let fools contest, 
Whate'er is best administered is best." 

It is hard to say which of these two couplets deserves 
the palm for shallowness of conception and viciousness 
of reasoning. The government which " is best adminis- 
tered " is not by any means necessarily " the best," as I 
am sure you would be the first to tell me. The best 
government is that which trains its subjects to govern 
themselves, and which thus combines the maadrnwrn, of 
individual liberty with the minimum of governmental 
control. The end of all civil government is the good 
of the governed, and the government which approaches 
nearest to that end, one in which individual life is 
developed to the greatest extent consistent with social 
life, is certainly the best government. But the mere 
machinery of government may be, and often is, far 
better administered under the most grinding despotism 
than under the most constitutional regime. A people 
which governs itself is sure to be slower in its move- 
ments and to make more blunders than one in which 
the power is centred in a single person; but, on the 
other hand, it enjoys the inestimable blessing of free- 
dom, it is secure against the caprice, the incapacity, or 
the ambition of its ruler ; and its policy, on the average. 


is sure to be wiser, and its administration, in the long 
run, likely to be better. 

But erroneous as Pope's view of civil government 
was, his maxim about " modes of faith " is still more 
misleading. It is, in fact, an outrageous fetUio 
prineijpii; for it begs the very point in dispute by 
quietly assuming that a man's life ean be "in the 
right " while his creed is wrong. Now if the history of 
mankind tells us anything at all for certain, it is the 
very converse of such a proposition. Whence came we? 
Whither are we going? What means that mysterious 
inward monitor which speaks to us of right and wrong, 
and sounds the alarm of a future retribution ? These 
are questions which the heart of man has been asking 
itself in all ages and countries, and which it cannot cease 
to ask till it shall cease to beat ; and according to the 
character of the answer in each case will be the moral 
character of the questioner. To worship, in some 
shape or other, a Being supreme over human destiny is 
an instinct coextensive with humanity ; and universal 
experience proves that man necessarily becomes assimi- 
lated to the object of his homage. It is so even in 
respect to our bodies. It is notorious that persons who 
live in intimate communion with each other become 
impressed with somewhat of one another's likeness: the 
stronger will impresses something of its own physical 
expression on the features of the weaker. The mind 
which looks up receives at length into its woof and tex- 


tare, and even into its material organ, the image of the 
object which fascinates it. If that object be pure and 
ennobling it will generate a pure and noble character 
in the worshipper ; if base and cruel, the image which 
it reflects must necessarily be base and cruel too. What 
is the history of heathendom, whether in ancient or 
modern times, but one long and sad illustration of this 
truth ? And what are the gods of the pagan world, 
after all, and as a rule, but the sensual and cruel 
instincts of debased humanity deified, so that man 
might thus obtain a spurious sanction for the worship 
of self : — 

" Gods partial, changeful, pasBlonate, unjust ; 
Whose attributes were rage, revenge, and lust." 

Such is Pope's own description of the deities of 
heathen mythology, and it is a proof of his shallow 
philosophy that he could think that a man's life could 
possibly be " in the right " while it succumbed to the 
demoralizing influences of such '' modes of faith " as 
these. Not so thought Plato, heathen as he was. So 
much impressed was he with the intimate connection 
between a true faith and a right life that he proposed 
to exclude from the schools of his ideal Republic 
all descriptions of the Olympian deities ; because ^^ in 
every undertaking the beginning is the most import- 
ant, especially in all that relates to the young and 
tender, since that is the time for receiving impressions 
most easily and lastingly. . . . For a child cannot dis- 


tinguish between what is allegorical and what is not ; 
and the impressions of childhood have a tendency to 
become fixed and indelible. Therefore we ought to con- 
sider it a matter o£ the utmost moment that the religious 
notions which children first learn should be adapted as 
much as possible to the promotion of virtue."* 

To what a frightful pass its " modes of faith" brought 
the heathen world S. Paul has told us in the beginning 
of his Epistle to the Eomans. But how was man to 
be restored ? Where was the spell that could reclaim 
him from the pernicious seductions of the senses, and 
give him a new life? The cultivation of his intelleo- 
tual faculties could not do it, for that had been tried 
and found wanting. Everybody would admit, I sup- 
pose, that the world has never seen a people so highly 
cultivated intellectually as the Athenians in the age 
of Pericles. But what were they morally? So foul 
that, as the Apostle says, ^^ It is a shame even to 
speak," not merely " of those things which were 
done of them in secret," but of many things which 
were done openly in the face of day. Purity was to 
them simply an unknown virtue ; and no wonder, for 
among all the gods of Olympus there was not a single 
deity that was pure. It is not merely that courtesans 
ruled society, presided at the tables of grave statesmen, 
and inspired the genius of an Apelles and a Praxiteles ; 
but that impurity was actually raised to the dignity of 

* Rep., b. ii., 378. 


a virtue and invested with the sanctions of religion ; 
thus indicating that abyss of depravity when the first 
principles of morals are not merely overthrown, but re- 
versed, — when evil is called good and good evil. The 
Aphrodite Anadyomene of Apelles and the Cnidian 
goddess of Praxiteles were both statues of the infamous 
Phryne ; and an image of the S8une courtesan was placed 
in the national sanctuary at Delphi without eliciting 
any sense of shame or profanation. The moral plague 
was, in fact, universal. " We have Hetairai for our 
pleasure," says Demosthenes in a public oration, '^ con- 
cubines for the ordinary requirements of the body, 
and wives for the procreation of lawful issue and as 
confidential domestic guardians."*^ And worse remains 
to be said, if it were possible to say it without shame. 
That hideous unnatural vice, which was the curse of 
most of the nations of antiquity, found in Athens a 
hothouse where it was forced into preternatural de- 
velopment. The whole literature of the Periclesian 
era is stained with its pestilential slime. It infested 
the entire framework of society, and the most eminent 
citizens of the time — generals, statesmen, poets, artists, 
and philosophers — were at once its patrons and victims. 
Is it possible to bring a more damaging accusation 
against that brilliant period of triumphant profligacy 

' * Yiarh 'Seaipas, The genuineness of this oration is disputed; 
but, whether genuine or not, it bears witness to the immorality of 
the age. 


than to say, what is literally true, that wherever the 
subject of love is mentioned in its literature it is 
hardly ever the love of woman that is meant? O'ptimi 
corruptio pessima est Grievous indeed must have been 
the pestilence when such choice spirits as Plato and 
Socrates could not escape its contagion. The sublime 
unselfishness of the latter, his lofty self-restraint, his 
unswerving love of truth, and his noble death, will 
always command the admiration and reverence of good 
men. Yet even of him it must be sorrowfully owned 
that " independence of mind, not strict purity, was 
the leading thought of his moral teaching.*^ His 
precautions to his pupils in favour of a modified 
continence are never based on the sanctity of chastity 
or on the moral evil of impurity, but entirely on phy- 
sical considerations and motives of expediency. He 
paid visits to the courtesan Theodota, in company 
with his youthful disciples, and in the most business- 
like manner gave her advice as to the best mode of 
winning and retaim'ng her lovers. And it shows the 
utter degradation of the Greek mind in this matter 
that Xenophon relates this licentious conversation in 
a workt written for the express purpose of vindicating 
the character of Socrates from the charge of corrupting 
youth. What is the inference but that chastity was 
not recognized as a virtue among the Athenians? 

* Zeller's ' Socrates and the Socratic Schools,* translated by 
Reichel, p. 132. 
t Mem. 1:^00., ill., 13. 


Moreover, both in the dialogues of Plato and of Xeno- 
phon we find Socrates dallying with that abominable 
sin to which I have already referred, and which for- 
tunately has no name in our language. It is clear 
that neither he nor Plato* regarded it as a sin at 
all, but rather as a lawful indulgence which was to 
be enjoyed in moderation. What are we to think, 
too, of some of the suggestions in Plato's Bepublic, — 
promiscuous concubinage, for example? Grant that 
even this horrible proposal was itself the bastard 
offspring of a sublime idea, which has found its true 
home and partial realization in the Church of Christ — 
namely, that a man should sacrifice wife, and children, 
and home, and friends and possessions, for the king- 
dom of God, which in Plato's eyes meant the State. 
Still the very fact that he proposed to plant the great 
law of self-sacrifice in the soil of social impurity is 
a striking proof that the idea of purity, as a virtue, 
had ceased to exist in the Greek mind. How much 
nobler and worthier is the idea of human life which 
Homer has portrayed in his comparatively ruder age. 
We see in the example of Athens, then, a clear proof 

* In jusdoe to Plato it must be added that he does condemn it, 
in severe terms, in the Laws, when the experience of age had con- 
vinced him of the ravages it was committing among his coimtiymen. 
Tet even here it is probable that what Plato deplored was not so 
much the moraX corruption as the deterioratioD of that physical 
beauty which the Greek loved with such passionate enthusiasm. 
Juvenal (Sat. ii., 10) seems to charge this vice, if not on Socrates 
personally, at least on his teaching. 


that the cultivation of the intellect will never of itself 
regenerate humanity. Man is moved to action by his 
imagination and feelings — never by his intellect. His 
afifections are not wrong in themselves, but in the 
direction in which they move and in the objects to 
which they cling. What they need, therefore, is a 
right object to attract them. Without that the sharp- 
ening of the intellect does nothing more than increase 
the power of the passions to indulge in wrong pursuits. 
" Intellect is not a power, but an instrument ; not a 
thing which itself moves and works, but a thing which 
is moved and worked by forces from behind it. To 
say that men are ruled by reason is as irrational as 
to say that men are ruled by their eyes. Keason is an 
eye — the eye through which the desires see their way 
to gratification. And educating it only makes it a 
better eye — gives it a vision more accurate and more 
comprehensive — does not at all alter the desires sub- 
served by it. However far-seeing you make it, the 
passions will still determine the direetions in which it 
shall be turned — the objects on which it shall dwell. 
Just those ends which the instincts or sentiments pro- 
pose will the intellect be employed to accomplish : 
culture of it having done nothing but increase the 
ability to accomplish them."* 

This is an important admission, coming, as it does, 
from a writer who is not only one of the most profound 

♦ Mr. Herbert Spencer's ' Social Statics,' p. 382. 


thinkers of the day, but who, alas! does not accept 
the Christian Faith, though he is too much of a philo- 
sopher to erect his own unbelief into a dogma, after the 
common fashion of the day. 

But if mere intellectual cultivation could not recall 
men to the " ways of pleasantness " and the paths of 
peace, what else could? Speaking in the rough, it 
may be said that three things were necessary : a right 
object of love ; a revelation of God's will and of the true 
relations between man and his Maker, with a teacher 
having authority to enforce it ; and spiritual power to 
enable man to "work out his own salvation." These 
three desiderafa Christianity professes to have supplied. 

1. Man needs a true object of affection ; but such 
an object could be found nowhere in the ancient world 
outside the mountains of JudsBa. Not in all the hier- 
archy of Olympus, nor, indeed, in any of the heathen 
mythologies, was there a single deity who could for a 
moment be the object of a pure disinterested love. It 
is probably for this reason that we read of no religious 
wars among the heathen, nor of any serious attempt at 
proselytism. There was not one of the falsely styled 
Immortals for whom any of his vassals could care to 
endure a moment's suffering, much less to die. 

How different is the God of Israel ! awful in majesty 
and power, and "of purer eyes than to behold ini- 
quity ; " yet yearning for the love of His creatures. 



The whole range of heathen literature famishes no- 
thing comparable to the sweetness and beauty of the 
images under which Jehovah's love for His. people is 
depicted. What can surpass the following passage in 
the exquisite tenderness of its pathos? 

^' The Lord's portion is His people ; Jacob is the lot 
of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and 
in the waste howling wilderness. He led him about, He 
instructed him. He kept him as the apple of His eye. As 
an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth oyer her young, 
spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them 
on her wings, — ^so the Lord alone did lead him." 

Or this ?— 

'^ Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, 
and His arm shall rule for Him. Behold His reward is 
with Him, and His work before Him. He shall feed 
His flock like a shepherd ; He shall gather the lambs 
with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall 
gently lead those that are with young." 

And the ancient people of Israel, with all their back- 
slidings, reflected back something of this Divine Love. 
They delighted to picture their everlasting Saviour as 
a Shepherd leading them through green meadows, 
and refreshing them ** beside the waters of comfort," or 
as a bountiful King, '^ preparing a table before them 
in the wilderness," or **as the shadow of a great rock 
in a weary land." It was a love pure, unmercenary, 
and elevating. Their God was neither a cold abstrac- 


tion, dwelling apart from His creatures in Epicurean 
unconcern^ nor a capricious divinity who must be kept 
in good humour by an elaborate system of human 
bribes ; but a Being Who watched over the fatherless 
and defended the cause of the widow ; Who loved jus- 
tice and mercy, and would "by no means clear the 
guilty;" Whose "mercy was over all His works," for- 
bidding to "muzzle the ox which treadeth out the 
com," to " seethe the kid in its mother's milk," or to 
C€urry oflF the dam bird sitting on her young. It was 
this combination of almighty power with lovingkind- 
ness that melted the heart of the ancient Hebrew, and 
weaned him at length from the corrupting influences 
of the nations around him. His God was not far away, 
but very near him; "about his path and about his 
bed, and spying out all his ways." He "put" the 
penitent's "tears into His bottle," and "in His book 
were all his members written." From His presence 
there was no escape : " If I climb up into heaven. Thou 
art there ; if I go down to hell. Thou art there also. 
If I take the wings of the morning, and remain in the 
uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Thy hand 
lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me." And this 
aU-embracing Presence, while it precluded aU possibility 
of escape to the sinner, was a Presence of love and 
protection to the righteous. " It was a manifold, ever- 
lasting manifestation of one deep feeling — a desire for 

human afiection Love is not asked in vain from 

H 2 


— - 

generous dispositions. A Being never absent^ but stand- 
ing beside the life of each man with ever-watchful 
tenderness, and recognized, though invisible, in every 
blessing that befel them from youth to age, became 
naturally the Object of their warmest affections. Their 
belief in Him could not exist without producing, as a 
necessary effect, that profound impression of passionate 
individual attachment which in the Hebrew authors 
always mingles with and vivifies their faith in the 
Invisible. All the books of the Old Testament are 
breathed upon by this breath of life."* What was it 
that saved Joseph in the crisis of his temptation but this 
feeling of ** passionate individual attachment " to the 
God of his fathers ? " How can I do this great wick- 
edness and sin " — not against Potiphar, but — ** against 
God ?" What but the same feeling wrung that Psalm 
of penitential agony from the heart of David after his 
great sin ? Uriah, Bathsheba, the scorn of his enemies, 
the foredoomed loss of his child, the predicted retribu- 
tion on his house, — all these were swallowed up and 
forgotten in the one absorbing thought that he, the 
shepherd boy of Bethlehem, had repaid with foul in- 
gratitude that gracious God Who had been so kind to 
him, Who had saved him from the lion and the bear, 
and given him the victory over Goliath, and delivered 
him from the persecution of Saul, and set him at last 
on the throne of Israel. "Against Thee — Thee only — 
♦ Arthur Hallam's *Bemains,' pp. 277-8. 


have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight." That 
was the thought which smote him to the earth, and 
which has made the Slst Psalm the model of Christian 
penitence throughout all time. 

But, after all, it was not till the eternal Son of God 
appeared in the form of man that men could truly be 
said to have an adequate object of affection ; and that 
for two reasons. In the first place, the idea of a Being 
who is infinite, yet personal ; who " inhabiteth eternity," 
yet "dwelleth with him also that is of a contrite and 
humble spirit," — ^is so complex that, without the con- 
crete evidence of it which the Incarnation supplies, the 
multitude could never apprehend it; they would be 
in perpetual danger of running into the extreme of 
Pantheism on the one side, or of a degrading idolatry 
on the other. In the second place, it was only by 
becoming incarnate that God could fully manifest His 
love to the human race. In one of those wondrous 
adumbrations of Christianity which made some of 
the Fathers regard him as partially inspired, and 
which induced Coleridge to compare him to "a 
plank from the wreck of Paradise cast on the shores 
of idolatrous Greece," Plato declared that if Divine 
Wisdom would only assume a human form all mankind 
would fall in love with her. Like attracts like, and, to 
love truly, a man must feel that there is something 
akin to his own nature in the object of his love. For 
love implies sympathy, and sympathy implies a fellow^ 


feeling, some bond of union, between the lover and the 
beloved. A select few among the Jews, persons of 
devout minds and rare spiritual insight, were able, as I 
have already pointed out, to realize this feeling in an 
intense degree even before the Incarnation. But with 
the mass Jehovah was an object of awe and fear and 
wonder rather than of loving devotion. And this was 
natural, for man's filial relationship to God cannot be 
fully realized without a belief in the Trinity. This 
important truth is stated with much force and clearness 
by Mr. Hutton, in his striking Essay on the Incar- 
nation. " If Christ," he says, " is the Eternal Son of 
God, God is indeed and in essence Father ; the social 
nature, the spring of love, is of the very essence of the 
Eternal Being; the communication of His life, the 
reciprocation of His affection, dates from beyond time 
— belongs, in other words, to the very being of God. 
Now some persons think that such a certainty even 
when attained has very little to do with human life. 
* What does it matter/ they say, * what the absolute 
nature of God is, if we know what He is to us ; how 
can it concern us to know what He was before our race 
existed, if. we know what He is to all His creatures 
now?' These questions seeni plausible, but I believe 
they point to a very deep error. I can answer for myself 
that the Unitarian conviction that God is — as God and 
in His Eternal Essence — ^a single and, so to say, solitary 
personality, influenced my imagination and the whole 


colour of my faith most profoundly. Such a conviction, 
thoroughly reached, renders it impossible to identify 
any of the social attributes with His real essence — 
renders it difficult not to regard power as the true root 
of all other divine life. If we are to believe that the 
Father was from all time, we must believe that He was 
0% a Father — that is, that love was actual in Him as 
well as potential, that the communication of life and 
thought and fulness of joy was of the inmost nature of 
God, and never began to be if God never began to be. 

" For my own part^ I am sure that our belief, what- 
ever it may be, about the ' absolute ' nature of God, 
influences iax more than any one supposes our practical 
thoughts about the actual relation of God to us. Uni- 
tarians eagerly deny — ^I once eagerly denied — that God 
is to them a solitary omnipotence. Nor is he. But I am 
sure that the conception of a single eternal will as 
originating, and infinitely antecedent to, all acts of love 
or spiritual communion with any other, affecto vitally 
the temper of their faith. The throne of heaven is to 
them a lonely one. The solitude of the eternities weighs 
upon their imaginations. Social are necessarily post- 
poned to individwil attributes; for they date from a 
later origin — from creation, — while power and thought 
are eternal. ' Necessarily, therefore, God, though 
spoken of and worshipped as a Father to us, is con- 
ceived primarily as imagining and creating; second- 
arily only, as loving and inspiring. But any Beings 


Whose thoughts and resolves are conceived as in any 
sense deeper than His aflTections, is necessarily regarded 
rather as benignant and compassionate than as afford- 
ing the type of that deepest kind of love which is co- 
ordinate with life ; — in short, rather as a beneficence 
whose love springs ont of power and reason, than as 
one Whose power and reason are grounded in love. I 
am sure that this notion of G-od as the Absolute Cause 
does tincture deeply even the highest form of Unitarian 
faith, and I cannot see how it could be otherwise. If 
our prayers are addressed to One Whose eternity we 
habitually image as unshared, we necessarily for the 
time merge the Father in the Omniscient and 
Omnipotent genius of the universe. If, on the other 
hand, we pray to One Who has revealed His own 
eternity through the Eternal Son — ^if in the spirit of 
the Liturgies, Catholic and Protestant, we alternate our 
prayers to the eternal originating Love, and to that 
Filial Love in which it has been eternally mirrored, 
turning from the * Father of heaven' to the *Son, 
Kedeemer of the world,' and back again to Him in 
Whom that Son for ever rests — ^then we keep a God 
essentially social before our hearts and minds, and fill 
our imagination with no solitary grandeur." * 

But true as all this is, it may be doubted whether 
the doctrine of the Trinity, if revealed without the In- 

* ' Essays, Theological and Literary.' By R. H. Hutton, i., pp. 

uv ■ I JV 


carnation of the Second Person, would ever have had 
any appreciable influence on the conduct of mankind at 
large. **God is Love," and the essence of love is self- 
sacrifice. But how was this idea, which lies at the root 
of the Christian conception of God, to be made opera- 
tive in the sphere of human conduct? Only by the 
fulfihnent of Plato's dream. Divine Love must take a 
human form in order to attract the love of men. Is it 
too bold a paradox to say that, incapable as Gtxl is of 
suffering, yet if He would reveal His nature to us He 
must show Himself as a Sufferer ? And since it was im- 
possible that He could do this in His Divine Essence, 
it was necessary that He should take into everlasting 
union with His own a nature which was capable of suffer- 
ing. God is ever sacrificing Himself; being essentially 
Love, He cannot do otherwise. But His self-sacrifioe in- 
volves no pain, because His life is a perfect life. Our self- 
sacrifice is painful because it involves conflict with our 
inherent selfishness. In God there is no selfishness, and 
therefore His perpetual self-sacrifice is perpetual joy. 
We dread pain and flee from suffering. Nevertheless 
"pain,*' as Arthur Hallam* truly observes, "is the 
deepest thing we have in our nature," for it is a 
continual reminder that our life is diseased, and that 
if we would "save" it "unto life eternal" we must 
consent to "lose" it under its temporal conditions. 
And hence the Epiphany of the Eternal God in the 

♦ • Bemains,' p. 281, 


manger of Bethlehem. It was a manifestation of 
absolute unselfishness. He " emptied Himself " of His 
incommunicable perfections, " by taking the form of a 
slave and appearing in the likeness of men.^' The 
Lord of all became the slave of all ; " the Prince of 
Life " became the victim of death ; He, Whose are " all 
the beasts of the forest and the cattle on a thousand 
hills," became a houseless wanderer in Judea; He 
" with Whom is the well of life " sued the adulterous 
woman of Samaria for a drink at Jacob's well ; He Who 
is the Judge of quick and dead was condemned to a 
cruel and degrading death before a human tribimal. 
Nor was it on occasion merely that He gave proof of 
His self-sacrifica What was His whole life on earth 
but one act of self-sacrifice ? He lavished the bounties 
of His exhaustless treasures freely upon others; He 
never once used His power to save Himself trouble or 
pain: — 

^ Poor He became, and left His glorious seat 
To make us humble and to make us great ; 
His business here was happiness to give 
To those whose malice would not let Him live. 

* * * * * 

Who for Himself no miracle would makd 
Dispensed with several for the peoples' sake. 
He that, long-fasting, would no wonder show. 
Made loaves and fishes, as they eat them, grow. 

Of all His power, which boundless was above. 
Here He used none but to express His love ; 


And such a love would make our joy exceed, 
Not when our own, but others', mouths we feed. 

* * * « * 

Love as He loved ! A love so unconfined 
With arms extended would embrace mankind. 
Self-love would cease, or be dilated, when 
We should behold as many selfs as men.'* 

Wallbb'b Poem of Divine Love, 

2. And this law of total self-surrender He taught 
" with authority and not as the Scribes." " His word 
was with power." He found the rule of selfishness in 
possession of the world ; might everywhere triumphant 
over right. It is difficult to realize in a Christian land 
how utterly the duty of self-sacrifice was ignored in the 
social and political life of the ancient world. The 
domination of the selfish principle in public and private 
life is embedded in the very language of the most law- 
abiding and the most moral of the nations of the Old 
World. In Latin, as every schoolboy knows, the word 
for enemy means literally a stranger, and rivals meant 
originally persons inhabiting the opposite banks of a 
stream ; as if every stranger must needs be an enemy, 
and every stream a sufficient excuse for strife to those 
whom it divided I And such, in sober fact, was the 
condition of the world when our Lord appeared. Self 
reigned supreme in the relations of nation with nation, 
and of man with man ; and wherever its outward mani- 
festation was repressed it was not from the love of man 
for God or his neighbour, but from motives of fear and 


seK-interest The spirit remtdned unchanged, and so 
man remained the same. 

This evil spirit Christ smote with the opposite spirit 
of entire unselfishness. He " came not to do His own 
will," He said, but to " lay down His life a ransom 
for many." While " the foxes had holes and the birds 
of the air had nests," He, their Lord and Master, " had 
not where to lay His head." And the self-denial which 
He practised Himself He imposed upon His followers. 
They were to welcome suffering, not merely to endure 
it when it came. They were io take up their crosses, 
not simply bear them when laid on their unwilling 
backs. They were to hve their enemies and do them 
good instead of resting satisfied with a merely passive 
forgiveness. They were even to "rejoice and be 
exceeding" glad when men persecuted and reviled 
them. Moreover, they were not to " lay up treasures 
upon earth," but rather to " seek first the kingdom of 
God and His righteousness," in the confidence that, if 
they did so, all that was good for them in their earthly 
life would be supplied to them by their heavenly Father* 

That this was a new doctrine is evident from the 
reception which the world gave it. It was described 
as a doctrine that was " turning the world upside down." 
And the description was scarcely an exaggeration. 
Christianity really did turn the world " upside down." 
It reversed the direction of human feeling and the rule 
of human conduct. It was with a true instinct, there- 


fore, that the Boman Empire fought such a desperate 
battle against it; for Christianity and Boman Im- 
perialism were essentially incompatible. The triumph 
of the one meant the destruction of the other. And, 
so . far, Christianity was a revolutionary religion. It 
was a reformation on the largest scale possible, and 
every reformation which claims to be radical (in the 
etymological sense of the word) must wear more or 
less of a revolutionary aspect to its own generation. 
This is unavoidable; for the only way to achieve a 
great and lasting reform, be it social, political, or 
religious, is to convert the multitude; and that can 
only be done by enlisting their imagination on the 
side of a few great principles which they can easily 
comprehend and digest, leaving time and circum- 
stances to supply the necessary qualifications. Hence 
it is that all reformers worthy of the name are, as a 
rule, regarded as revolutionists by the conservative 
portion of their contemporaries. They find it impos- 
sible to overcome the obstacles which beset their 
path without an impulse from the popular sentiment, 
and so they project into the arena of public discussion 
a few broad principles, easily understood and easily 
remembered, but requiring a certain moderation and 
discretion in the application of them. If a reformer 
were to qualify his propositions with every imagin- 
able exception, and make them so smooth and round 
that they would pass through the mind without 

%g ^c:>» ----s^ .ipH,' - i ^Cr 


scratching it, the result would be that they would 
make no impression at all, and no reformation could 
ever take place. 

But revolutionary as Christianity was deemed by 
those who witnessed its nascent struggles for victory, 
it was, in truth, the most conservative of all religions, 
—conservative, that is, of all that is worth pre- 
serving in the social, political, and individual life of 
man. It differed from all other religions, before or 
since, in this, that it planted fruitful and enduring 
principles in the heart of humanity instead of pre- 
scribing a code of rules; and those principles, in 
proportion as they have had a fair field, have erected 
on the ruins of ancient polities a fairer civilization 
than Pagan poet or philosopher ever dreamt of. Chris- 
tianity, and it alone, has thus realized the poet's words : 
its influence on the world has been that of a ^* pure 
religion breathing household laws:" not teaching, or 
professing to teach, a new art of living, but hreathmg 
a spirit into human nature which should have a 
continual and an increasing tendency to exorcise its 
innate selfishness and make it pregnant with the 
seeds of righteous laws. It made no overt war on 
any of the institutions of the time, or of any time ; 
but it disseminated principles which struck their 
roots beneath the decaying systems of Paganism, so 
that, when they fell, the "Civitas Dei" was ready 
to take their place. Neither slavery nor despotism 


is proscribed in set terms in the New Testament. 
But both are implicitly condemned by the proclama- 
tion of the equality of all men in Christ and of the 
responsibility of rulers to the Supreme Judge of all ; 
and the result has been that slavery, w^iether social 
or political, has succumbed, surely if slowly, to the 
influence of Christian ideas. " Slavery, in the age of 
the Apostles, had so penetrated society, was so inti- 
mately woven with it, and the materials of servile 
war were so abundant, that a religion preaching free- 
dom to the slave would have shaken the social fabric 
to its foundations, and would have armed against itself 
the whole power of the State. Paul did not then 
assail the institution. He satisfied himself with spread- 
ing principles which, however slowly, could not but 
work its destruction."* 

And what is true of slavery is equally true of a great 
many other things. " In Christianity," says one of the 
deepest thinkers and ablest writers of our generation, 
^^ the rules are so comprehensive and large as uniformly 
to furnish the major premiss of a syllogism ; whilst the 
particular act under discussion, wearing perhaps some 
modem name, naturally is not directly mentioned : and 
to bring this, in the minor proposition, under the 
principle contained in the major is a task left to the 
judgment of the inquirer in each particular case. Some- 

• Channing, quoted by Mr. Goldwin Smith in * Does the Bible 
Sanction American Slaveiy?' p. 103. 


thing is here entnisted to individual understanding; 
whereas in the Koran, from the circumstantiality of the 
rule, you are obliged mechanically to rest in the letter 
of the precept. The Christian Scriptures therefore not 
only teach, but train the mind to habits of seZ/^-teaching 
in all moral questions, by enforcing more or less of 
activity in applying the rule ; that is, in subsuming the 
given case proposed under the Scriptural principle."* 

It is not merely the abolition of slavery, then, that 
has followed in the wake of Christianity. From the 
very first Christianity prescribed monogamy as the rule 
of its converts, and from that moment marriage became 
a sacred thing. Woman ceased to be the slave of man's 
passions or the toy of his caprice ; she became his part- 
ner in a mystical union which only death could sunder, 
and thus exercised a purifying influence in the regene- 
ration of society which it is hardly possible to exagge- 
rate — an influence which simply did not exist in any 
part or form of heathen society. War has not been abo- 
lished by Christianity ; but it has ceased to characterize 
the chronic relations of nations to each other. Public 
opinion has stamped it as an execrable crime, and Chris- 
tian influences have done much to mitigate its horrors. 
It may safely be predicted that it will be a long time 
before we hear again of a Christian Government en- 

* De Quincey's Works, vol. xi., pp. 278-9. This characteristic 
of Ghristiamty has also been well stated by the author of 'Ecce 
Homo,' chap. xiii. 


gaging in war " with a light heart ;" and we may reason- 
ably hope that the example which England and America 
have just set of referring international disputes to the 
arbitration of reason and justice, rather than to the bar- 
barous arbitrament of the sword, will not be lost on the 
world. The Treaty of Washington marks an era in 
civilization. Its influence will not be destroyed by any 
temporary misadventure, and we may trust that the 
policy which it represents will, at no distant day, take 
its place in the code of international morality. 

The intrinsic sacredness of human life is another legacy 
from the Incarnation of the Son of God. Infanticide was 
not considered a crime against eternal morality by the 
most advanced races of the heathen world, and among 
the less advanced it was a recognized law of political 
economy — the most sensible and rational expedient for 
getting rid of superfluous or useless population. Even 
Plato did not scruple to prescribe abortion and infant- 
icide, in certain cases, among the laws of his " Ee- 
public." Misshapen and sickly children, and the children 
of aged and diseased parents — all children, in fact, which 
were likely not to make good citizens, were to be ruth- 
lessly exposed on the mountain?, to perish either of cold 
and hunger or by the fangs of hungry wolves. 

But the Incarnate Son sanctified every condition of 
life through which He passed, and since He became a 
wailing infant the helplessness of childhood has always 
been considered an additional claim on the protection of 



manhood. We are still far from an adequate recogni- 
tion of the heinousness of recklessly destroying the lives 
of beings made in the image of God and redeemed by 
His blood. But we are separated by a whole continent of 
thought and feeling from the time when a Boman Em- 
peror could, on a summer's afternoon, put twenty thou- 
sand slaves to death '' to make a Boman holiday." 

Another creation of Christianity is the sense of 
responsibility with which all Christian nations now 
govern their subject races ; and in this matter our own 
country has taken an honourable lead. The impeach- 
ment of Warren Hastings, in the name of the Commons 
of England, "for high crimes and misdemeanours" 
against the people of India, bore no visible fruit at the 
time, and .Burke died in the belief that his transcendent 
effort was, after all, a failure. But it was no failure. 
His fiery denunciation of wrong and of oppression sank 
into the public conscience and leavened the thought of 
Europe ; and " he, being dead, yet speaketh " in the 
recent punishment, by a Viceroy of India, of two English 
subordinates, for putting to death, without legal trial, 
a handful of native rebels. In what state of heathen 
antiquity would such a thing have been possible? 
In Bome, whose greatest Viceroy put a million Gauls 
to death, and sold another million into slavery?* 
But who can read Burke's speeches against Warren 
Hastings without seeing that he drew all his inspiration 

* Goldwin Smith's * Lectures on Modem History/ lect. iii., p. 89. 


from the spirit of the Gospel ? This it was which caused 
his pity for the people of India, and roused his mind to 
a frenzy of indignation against their wrongs. In truth, 
the great principles of Christian morality are now so 
interwoven with our tone of mind and habits of thought, 
that we act on them unconsciously, often attributing to 
the exercise of a sound political judgment modes of 
action and rules of government which, but for the silent 
infiltration of Christian influences, we should never 
have thought of. 

We are sometimes told, by men of superficial reading 
or impatient tempers, that the Christian Church has 
been a foe to political freedom. In fact, it has been 
the parent and nourisher of political freedom. De 
Quincey is unquestionably right when he says that ^' the 
Greeks and Bomans, although so frantically republican, 
and, in wme of their institutions, so democratic, yet, on 
the other hand, never developed the idea of representa- 
tive government The elective principle was widely 
known among them. . • • Public authority and juris- 
diction were created and modified by the elective prin- 
ciple; but never was this principle applied to the 
creation or direction of public opinion. . . . Strange, 
indeed, that so mighty a secret as that of delegating 
public opinions to the custody of elect representatives, 
a secret which has changed the face of the world, should 
have been missed by nations applying so vetst an energy 
to the whole theory of public administration. But the 

I 2 


truth, however paradoxical, is that in Greece and Rome 
no body of public opinions existed that could have fur- 
nished a standing-ground for adverse parties. In all 
the dissensions of Home, from the secession of the Plebs 
to the factions of the Gracchi, of Marius and Sylla, of 
Caesar and Pompey; in all the sroo-cts of the Grecian 
republics, — the contest could no more be described as a 
contest of opinion than could the feuds of our buc- 
caneers in the seventeenth century, when parting com- 
pany, or fighting for opposite principles of dividing the 
general booty." * 

" Does Christianity interfere with political progress ?" 
asks Mr. Gold win Smith.f " The instrument of political 
progress is generally allowed to be liberty. It is allowed 
to be so ultimately even by those who wish to suppress 
it provisionally, and to inaugurate for the present a 
despotic dictatorship of their own ideas. And Chrifi- 
tianity, by first proclaiming the equality and brother- 
hood of men, became the parent of just and enduring 
liberty. What spiritual power prevailed over the birth 
of our free institutions? Was it not the earnest 
though narrow and distorted Christianity of the Middle 
Ages, which still, though its hour is past, shows its 
ancient spirit in Montalembert? What power was it 
that directly consecrated the principle of local self- 
government, the foundation of all true liberty, in the 
religious association of the parish ? Cast your eyes 

* Works, vol. xi., p. 273. f Lect. iii., p. 32. 


over the map of Europe, and see whether sincere 
Christianity and political freedom are unsuited to dwell 
together. Name, if you can, any great Christian philo- 
sopher who has been an enemy to freedom. On the 
other hand, Hobbes, Bolingbroke, Hume, Gibbon, were 
Imperialists; they all belonged, though in different 
degrees, to the school which takes a sensual and animal 
view of man, mistrusts all moral and spiritual restraints, 
and desires a strong despotism to preserve tranquillity, 
refinement, and the enjoyments and conveniences of 
life. It need not be added that the most fanatical 
enemies of Christianity at the present day are also 
fanatical Imperialists." 

I have quoted these two distinguished and learned 
writers, the one a strong Tory, the other a Liberal of 
the most advanced type, not only because they have ex- 
pressed my own thoughts in much better language than 
I can command, but because, being laymen, they cannot 
be suspected of any professional bias, and are, moreover, 
free from every tinge of what it is now the fashion to 
stigmatize as ** Sacerdotalism." Both De Quincey and 
Mr. Goldwin Smith contend that not political progress 
alone, but progress of every kind, ** intellectual or in- 
dustrial," is indebted to Christianity. Stock argu- 
ments, like that from the persecution of Galileo, merely 
prove that Christianity, like Nature, has now and then 
been misinterpreted by fallible and impatient zealots. 
Theologians have not by any means been the most sue- 


cessful opponents of scientific discoveries. The chief 
obstructives have been men of science themselves. 
Harvey's * Exercitatio de Motu Cordis ' was greeted as 
an outrageous paradox by the Medical Profession ; and, 
in fact, every great discovery in medical science has 
had to fight its way against the prejudices (not always 
confined to words) of the Faculty. And so it has fared 
with other sciences. It has been true of most of them 
that " a man's foes are they of his own household." I 
am not quite sure that even in these days of enlightened 
toleration a scientific discovery which ran violently 
counter to received opinion would not have to reckon 
with the only persecution which is now possible— railing 
and ridicule. But science is not responsible for the mis- 
takes of its advocates, nor is Christianity necessarily 
compromised by the ignorant zeal of its champions. 

I might go on to show that charitable institutions of 
every kind have grown up under the shadow of the 
Cross. The Sacrifice of Calvary has established a kind 
of sympathy even between man and the lower creation. 
Societies against cruelty to animals would have been 
considered a premonitory symptom of insanity till He 
appeared Whose providential care is over the sparrows, 
and Who "feedeth the young ravens that call upon 
Him." Nor was it till man learnt that the whole 
creation "groaneth and travaileth in pain together" 
with himself, and is a sharer alike in his Fall and his 
Bedemption, that Nature became an object of reverent 


contemplation to the philosopher, the poet, and the 
painter. Certainly, as a matter of fact, Physical 
Science owes its splendid trinmphs partly to that spirit 
of self-dcTotion which is the child of the Incarnation, 
and partly to that feeling of mysterious sympathy 
between man and Nature which is one of the fruits 
of Christianity. In the light of Beyelation the mate- 
rial world has ceased to be regarded as '^ a fortuitous 
concourse of atoms." All its life and all its glory are 
seen to be from Him in Whom not mankind only, but 
all things, ^^live, and move, and have their being.'* 
He created it in the beginning, and He sustains it 
from moment to moment by His omnipresent will 
Under the dominion of this feeling the poet and the 
painter now regard Nature with other eyes than those 
of the ancients. In the varied and entrancing beauties 
of earth and sea and sky, in the mystery of the forest 
and the ocean, in the joyousness of the dawn and the 
pensive beauty of evening, they find the evidence of a 
mysterious Presence— 

^ Whose dwelling is the light of setting sons, 
And the round ocean, and the lining air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man : — 
A motion and a spirit, which impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought, 
And rolls through all things." 

" When a modem, instead of writing modem poetry, 
imitates, however skilfully, the poetry of the Greeks, how 


great is the sacrifice of all that most touches our hearts ; 
and yet how much that is beyond the range of Greek 
sentiment remains! Philanthropy is a Greek word, 
but how wide a circle of ideas does its present meaning 
embrace ! In natural reL'gion itself the progress seems 
not less clear. Man's idea of God must rise as he sees 
more of Him in His works^ as he sees more of Hiia 
by reflecting on his own nature (in which the true proof 
of natural religion lies), and in those efforts of human 
yirtue in other men which would be unaccountable if 
there were no God, and this world were alL More and 
more, too, from £^e to age, the ideas of the soul and of 
a future life rise in distinctness ; Man feels more and 
more that he is a traveller between the cradle and the 
grave, and that the great fact of life is death ; and 
the centre of human interest moves gradually towards 
the other world." On the other hand, " the Greek, for 
the most part, rose lightly from the banquet of life to 
pass into that unknown land with whose mystery specu- 
lation had but dallied, and of which comedv had made 
a jest. The Eoman lay down almost as lightly to rest 
after his course of public duty. But now if death could 
really regain his victory in the mind of man, hunger 
and philosophy together would hardly hold life in its 
course. The latest and most thorough-going school of 
materialism has found it necessary to provide some- 
thing for man's spiritual nature, and has made a 
shadowy divinity out of the abstract being of humanity. 


and a shadowy immortality of the soul out of a figment 
that the dead are greater than the living. Lucretius 
felt no such need."* 

By becoming' incarnate, then, God the Son not only 
provided an adequate object of human affections; He 
extended immeasurably the whole horizon of our 
thoughts, our hopes, our aspirations. He gave back to 
man the Sceptre over Nature which the Fall in Eden 
had wrested from his hand, and, in earnest of our final 
triumph over the forces which now govern our material 
organism and to which it must one day succumb. He 
made the laws of matter subservient to His Human 
Will. He turned water into wine, and multiplied inde- 
finitely and in a moment the produce alike of earth and 
sea. He walked on liquid water as upon solid ground, 
and by one royal word calmed at once the fear of His 
disciples and the angry waves of the Lake of Galilee. 
At His touch diseases fled, and Death yielded up his 
prey at His command. And this control over Nature 
He delegated, in a measure, to redeemed Humanity. 
The old enmity was to cease ; man was to resume his 
original supremacy, and Nature was to do him service. 
" Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of 
Thy hands, and Thou hast put all things in subjection 
under his feet." This dominion, which was forfeited by 

♦ Goldwin Smith * On the Study of History/ p. 38. Cf. Oxen- 
hAm on * The Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement,* second edition, 
p. 306* 


the First Adam, was won back for humaaity by the 
perfect obedience of the Second. The Second Head of 
our race refused '* all the kingdoms of the world and the 
glory of them " when the Tempter offered them as a 
bribe for sinful service ; and now they are His by the 
noble title of conquest by the Cross. " The kingdoms 
of the world have become the kingdoms of our Lord 
and of His Christ ; " and the Carpenter of Nazareth is 
at this moment the acknowledged Lord and King of the 
ruling nations of the world. The legend on Constan- 
tine's fiery cross is being still fulfilled ; for from his time 
to our own the great pioneers of human progress have 
conquered in the sign of the Cross. Even in the realm 
of Nature how marveUous are the triumphs which Chris- 
tendom, and Christendom alone, has achieved! The 
language of the Psalmist is no longer an exaggeration ; 
for may we not say of man, with some degree of truth, 
that God ^^ has put all things in subjection under his 
feet"? In answer to his eager questioning the earth is 
revealing day by day the hoary record of her chequered 
history, and the sea has been made to disclose the 
secrets of its mysterious depths ; the very lightning has 
been imprisoned, like the Geni in Eastern fable, and 
been compelled to become the obedient messenger of 
man's behests. Where, indeed, shall his triumphs end 
who has already measured the stars, and calculated 
their movements, and analyzed their properties ? 
To what are these wonderful achievements mainly 


due ? Is it by accident that they are connected with 
Christianity? Or must we not rather say that they 
ought in justice to be ascribed to that stimulus which 
the Christian Kevelation necessarily imparted to human 
progress by elevating the vision of mankind, and ex- 
panding indefinitely^ and in all directions, its field of 
view ? Without that Eevelation what inducement had 
man to investigate Nature or to break down the barriers 
which she interposed between the mutual intercourse of 
races and nations ? The creature of a day, the sport of 
circumstances, ignorant alike of the destinies of his race 
and of his own origin and end, why should he trouble 
himself about the forces of Nature further than to pro- 
vide as well as he could against their encroachments on 
his comfort? Seeing in every foreigner a natural 
enemy, why should he take pains to facilitate the inter- 
communion of peoples and tribes ? Mr. Palgrave tells 
us that among the tribes of the interior of Africa there 
is a proverb which says that " Trade is war." But by 
the proclamation of the common brotherhood of all men, 
under one Master who died for all and lives for all. 
Trade is peace, and nations find that they are necessary 
to each other, and that ^^ if one member suffers, all the 
members suffer with it.*' 

3. But something more was yet required for the re- 
generation of humanity. Man needed an object of love 
on which his heart might repose securely ; he needed a 
revelation of God's will and of his own place in the 


universe. But he also needed health ; for he was sick, 
and there was no balm in all the laboratory of human 
Science that could heal him of his wounds. Christ 
came, therefore, not as "the Desire of all nations" 
merely, and not merely as the Teacher of men, but, 
above all, as the Healer of our race. He came, not to 
develop our nature, but to make it new ; to reconstruct 
it from the foundation ; to place a new organic force at 
the centre of our being, which should gradually transform 
our nature into the likeness of His own. Humanity had 
been perverted from its true end, but it was still divine ; 
else the Son of God could not have clothed Himself 
in it. The very misery of man proved, in fact, his 
grandeur, as Pascal observed long ago. There is' an 
unearthly melody in his song, and something more 
than mortal mingles in his wail. Natures inferior to 
his may be miserable; but they are not conscious of 
their own misery. The knowledge of his misery adds 
poignancy to man's sorrow, but it also bears testimony 
to the high estate from which he is fallen. He is like 
a dethroned monarch, bearing about him in his exile 
the lineaments of his royal birth. 

" The soul that rises with us, our life's star, 
Hath had elsewhere its setting, 

And cometh from afar : 

Not in entire forgetfulness, 

And not in utter nakedness, 
But trailing clouds of glory do we come 

From God, Who* is our home." 


It was one of the fundamental errors of the leaders of 
the Eeformation on the Continent that they utterly 
denied that man "trailed" any " clouds of glory" from 
his heavenly home. They taught that the Fall vitiated 
human nature at the very core, making it altogether 
corrupt, so that God could find nothing in it but what 
was abominable and hateful. That this is no exaggera- 
tion of their teaching a few quotations will show : — 

"Let us," says Calvin, "grasp this unquestionable 
truth which no opposition can ever. shake, that the 
mind of man is so completely alienated from the 
righteousness of God, that it conceives, desires, and 
undertakes everything that is impious, perverse, base, 
flagitious; that his heart is so thoroughly infected by 
the poison of sin that it cannot produce anything but 
what is corrupt ; and that if, at any time, men do any- 
thing apparently good, yet the mind always remains in- 
volved in hypocrisy and deceitful obliquity, and the 
heart remains enslaved by its inward perverseness. . . . 
In vain do we look in our nature for anything that is 
good." * 

Again : — 

"Everything in man, the understanding and the 
will, the soul and body, is polluted. . . . Man is, of 
himself, nothing but concupiscence." t 

♦ Instit., lib. ii., c. 3, § 19. The title of this chapter is Ex 
corruptd hominis naturd nihil nisi damnabile prodire. 
t Ibid., lib. ii., c. 1, § 10. 


Again : — 

^* Man cannot be excited or biassed to anything but 
what is evil. If this is so, there is no impropriety in 
affirming that he is under the necessity of sinning."* 

This goes the whole length of making God the author 
of evil And Calvin does not shrink from that terrible 
alternative. He scouts as a miserable evasion the idea 
that sin takes place by the permission of God, and not 
by His active volition. He affirms that neither wicked 
men, nor even the devil, ** can do anything but by the 
secret will of God." And he quotes, as illustrations in 
point, the "lying spirit" in the mouth of Ahab's 
prophets and the incest of Absalom.t " Man," he says, 
" by a just impulse of God, does what is wrong." X 

Melancthon and Zuingli use the same language as 
Calvin. The former maintains that the virtues of good 
heathens, the constancy of Socrates, the chastity of 
Xenocrates, the temperance of Zeno, were not virtues at 
all, but " must be considered as vices ; " § and that, in 
fact, " all the works of men and all their endeavours 
are sinful." He too, like Calvin, accepts the full conse- 
quences of his premisses, and does not scruple to make 
God the direct author of sin, citing, by way of illustra- 
tion, the adultery of David, which he maintains was 

♦ Instit., lib. ii., c. 3, § 5. f Ibid., Ub. i., c. 18, § 4. 

% Ibid., lib. iv., a 18, § 2. 

§ " Non debent pro veris virtutibus sed pro vitiis haberi. " Loci 
Thedlogiciy p. 22. 


inspired by God, yet without sin.* Zuingli uses the 
same illustration, and for the same purpose. God, he 
says, is ''the author, mover, and impeller" of the sins 
and crimes which men commit.t Beza maintained that 
God actually creates a portion of mankind for the ex- 
press purpose of making them his instruments in work- 
ing evil. He does not merely suffer them to do wrong, 
nor merely rules the event ; He literally incjites, impels, 
moves aud governs them in the execution of their 
wicked designs.]: It followed, of course, that man had 
really no free will properly so called, and both Cal- 
vinists and Lutherans accepted, without hesitation, that 
corollary from their doctrine. Yet, with singular want 
of logic for so logical a mind, Calvin asserted that God 
was angry with His creatures and intended mischief 
against them for sins which they were predestined and 
created to commit, and which therefore they could not 

* The pajBsage is so coarse that I must leave it in its Latin 
disguise: ''Quod Deus facit libere facit, alienus ab omni afifectu 
noxio, igitur et absque peccato, ut adulterium David, ^uod ad auctorem 
Deum pertinetf non magis Deo aitpeccatum guam cum taunts totum 
armentum inscendit et tmplet" 

t " Unum igitur atque idem facinus, puta adulterium aut homi- 
cidium, quantum Dei auctoris, motoris, impulsoris, opus est, crimen 
non est, quantum autem hominis est crimen ac scelus est." De 
Provid., c. vi. I cannot conceive any doctrine more utterly sub- 
versive of morality than this. 

t " Sic autem agit (Deus) per ilia instrumenta, ut non tantum 
sinat ilia agere, neo tantum moderetur eventum, sed etiam incitet, 
impellat, moveat, regat, atque adeo, quod omnium est maximum, et 
creat ut per ilia agat quod constituit." Aphorum^ xxii. 



possibly have helped. " No man can contemplate him- 
self," he says, " and seriously consider his own character 
without perceiving that God is angry and at enmity 
with him ; and consequently he must see that he is 
bound anxiously to find some method of appeasing 
Him." * 

The Lutherans took much the same view of the Fall 
as the Calvyiists, though they rejected the Calvinistic 
theory of Predestination. They held that the Fall ac- 
tually deprived man of an essential part of humanity, 
and injected a certain evil substance into his nature. 
The image of God was not merely marred, but abso- 
lutely extinguished, and the image of the Devil — ^a 
positive element of evil — was substituted in its room.t 
In propagating such a view Luther is certainly open to. 
Moehler's censure, that he "here touched on the 
borders of Manicheism, if he did not actually overstep 
the frontier." Havinor thus reduced man to what 

♦ Instit., b. iii., c. 22, § 7. 

t Moehler's * Symbolism,' translated by Robertson, pp. 77-88. 
Moehler quotes the following opinions of Luther on this subject : — 
'* It is the nature of man to sin ; sin constitutes the essence of man ; 
the nature of man, since his fall, is become quite changed ; original 
sin is that very thing which is bom of father and mother." ** The 
clay out of which we are bom is damnable; the foetus in its 
mother's womb is sin." "Man, as he is bom of his father and 
mother, together with his whole nature and essence, is not only a 
sinner, but sin itself." These extravagant and horrible opinions 
find no place in the theology of the leading Lutherans of our day. 
See Miiller ' On the Christian Doctrine of Sin,' passim. 


Eallam calls ** a degraded Caliban," * Luther invented 
the figment of an imputed righteousness — ^a cloak, not 
a cure, for the sores of humanity. "God," he says, 
" sent His Son into the world, and laid upon Him all the 
sins of all men, saying, * Be thou Peter, that denier ; 
Paul, that persecutor, blasphemer, and cruel oppressor ; 
David that adulterer : be thou that sinner that ate the 
apple in Paradise ; that thief which hung upon the 
Gross : in short, be thou the person who has committed 
the sins of all men. See, therefore, that thou pay and 
satisfy them.' . . . Therefore where sins are seen and 
felt they are no longer sins." t To say that faith without 
works was dead and unprofitable he pronounced " a 
devilish and blasphemous doctrine," and accordingly 
his reverence for the Bible did not prevent him from 
denouncing the Epistle of S. James as " an Epistle of 

It is the natural tendency of all reformers to bend, 
by the force of the recoil, towards the opposite extreme 
to that from which they are escaping. While, there- 
fore, we repudiate the doctrines of the Continental 
Beformers we may make allowance for them personally, 
and charitably put down to the circumstances in which 
they found themselves, rather than to any moral obli- 
quity in themselves, opinions which strike at the root, 
not of Christianity alone, but of Theism altogether. At 

♦ * Hist, of Lit.,' ill., p. 284. 

t Comment, on Gal., chap. iii.» verse 13. 


the same time we cannot be too grateful that their 
peculiar views on the Fall and Bedemption of Man 
have, after all, left so little taint on our own Anglican 
theology. They have, indeed, to a considerable degree, 
stained the imagination of a large portion of the com- 
munity, and I am persuaded that if we could trace 
the popular objections to the Athanasian Creed back 
to their source, we should find that they arise not so 
much from anything in the Greed itself as from foreign 
ideas imported into it from Galvinistic and Lutheran 

Discarding that theology, therefore, let us consider 
very briefly what is really meant by the doctrine of the 
FalL " For," as Coleridge truly observes, " without just 
and distinct views respecting the Article of Original 
Sin it is impossible to understand aright any of the 
peculiar doctrines of Christianity."* 

I have already referred to that law^ of human cha- 
racter which made it necessary that man should be 
created with a will in a state of imperfect development, 
but capable of seK-determined fixity in one of two 
moral conditions. We are not to suppose, however, 
that Adam's will before the Fall was in a state of 
simple neutrality* It is the teaching of the Church 
that, in addition to that aggregate of natural endow- 
ments which we possess in common with him, and 
which constitute the integrity of human nature, our 

* < Aids to Reflection,' p. 215. 


First Parents possessed a gift of Supernatural Grace, 
sufficiently powerful to sway the will in the right direc- 
tion, biit not strong enough to interfere with its essen* 
tial freedom. On man's disobedience this supernatural 
endowment was withdrawn ; not necessarily by way of 
punishment, but rather, perhaps, because it would be 
hurtful to him in his fallen condition. For, according 
to the common proverb, ^^ What is one man's meat is 
another man's poison ;" the food that nourishes and in- 
yigorates the healthy may proye fatal to one that is 
sickly. Adam, by his transgression, severed his will 
from that of his Maker, and started aside into the 
isolation of self-assertion; consequently he became 
incapable of direct communion with God, and was 
therefore banished from the Divine Presence, lest the 
" flaming sword " should destroy him. " For our God 
is a consuming fire ;" and necessarily so to all who are 
ungodly. We may see a parable of this impressive 
truth in the incident of the Burning Bush on Horeb. 
The Bush '^burned with fire, and the Bush was not 
consumed." But the moment Moses ^Humed aside" 
and approached the flame of the Divine Presence, he 
was warned off instantly, urgently. ^ Moses I Moses I 
Draw not nigh hither." Why was this ? Because Gk>d 
is necessarily ^^ a consuming fire," — as Moses afterwards 
calls Him, probably with reference to this very in- 
cident, — ^to everything which is antagonistic to His 
nature. There is nothing antagonistic to Him in the 

K 2 


productions and operations of Nature — " He hath given 
them a law which shall not be broken/' and therefore 
they can bear contact with His Presence and not be 
consumed. But in the best of men there is an element 
of selfishness, — ^that is, of opposition to the Divine 
Nature, which is absolutely unselfish. Therefore God 
deals mercifully with us, as he dealt with Moses of old 
when he desired to see His glory. " Thou canst not see 
My face ; for there shall no man see Me and live. And 
the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou 
shalt stand upon a rock; and it shall come to pass, 
while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a 
clift of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand 
while I pass by ; and I will take away My hand, and 
thou shalt see My back parts : but My face shall not be 
seen." Such is the condition of humanity now. It is 
" in a clift of the rock," covered with God's hand, and 
beholding ^' the back parts " of His passing glory, but 
not daring as yet to look on His surpassing beauty, 
lest the vision, like Semele's, should consume it. For, 
as there may be what Milton calls ^^ darkness from 
excessive bright," so it is possible that in our present 
condition the Beatific Vision, which makes the happi* 
ness of saints and angels, might fill us with intolerable 
pain. Even the contemplation of earthly beauty is 
sometimes felt to be painful. Sir John Herschel tells 
us that when he saw Sirius coming on in all its glory 
he was obliged to turn away from his telescope and 


shut his eyes on the beautiful sight. And so the pro- 
mise to *^ see the King in His beauty " is only to those 
who are " pure in heart," and who shall be privileged 
hereafter to " look upon the land that is very far off." 
Here we must be content to ^^see through a glass 
darkly," and adore behind a veil of sacramental agency. 

On Adam's fall, then, the " Donum Supernaturale " 
was withdrawn, for by his transgression man had closed 
up the avenues through which it acted. He had altered, 
so to speak, the centre of gravity in his constitution, 
and disorganized his whole system. The unity of his 
complex nature was broken, for its ruling principle, the 
will, had broken loose from the attraction of the Sun of 
Bighteousness, and become the slave of every passing 
influence. Humanity still remained in its integrity, 
nor was any substantive element of evil introduced 
into it. And yet a great change had passed over it 
It " became subject to vanity." Its affections were per- 
verted from their proper objects, the spiritual faculties 
were therefore starved of their proper nutriment, and 
their development was consequently arrested. They 
were feeble, emaciated and dwarfed, and had not 
strength sufficient to resist the earthward attraction of 
the senses. 

Christ came to reverse this downward attraction. 
He came to be " the Way, the Truth, and the Life," 
that is, to place humanity in connection with a new 
object of attraction, and in communication with a new 


source and principle of life. The old channels had 
been dammed up by man's sin; the old trunk had 
become well nigh sapless, and was hastening to decay. 
Therefore a New Head of our race appeared as the 
True Vine on which the members of the Old Man 
might be engrafted, and from which they might derive 
spiritual nourishment. "As in Adam all die, even so 
in Christ shall all be made alive." How did all men 
die in Adam? Was it not by deriving from him a 
perverted life? How are they to be made alive in 
Christ ? Is it not by receiving from Him the germ of 
a perfect life, which, if they do not resist its influence, 
will so leaven their old nature that it will become 
gradually transformed into the image of the Second 
Adam ? The remedy must cover the disease ; the Re- 
demption in Christ must be commensurate with the 
Fall in Adam ; else the Gospel is a fiction and Chris- 
tianity a dream. From the First Adam we inherited a 
depraved life: the fact must be admitted even by 
those who refnse to admit its cause. It is with no 
heritage of imputed ills that we are bom, but with a 
very real perversion of our natural faculties ; and it is 
by no figment of an impuited righteousness that we are 
to be saved, but by a veritable participation in the 
Eedeemed Humanity of our Incarnate Lord. We are 
to be made, and not merely accounted, righteous. 
Unless we admit that we are really and actually par- 
takers of Christ's Humanity, partakers in a sense as 


real as our participation in the corrupt humanity of 
Adam, a great deal of the language of the New Testa- 
ment becomes irrelevant and misleading rhetoric. What 
is the meaning of the antithesis, which runs through 
S. Paul's Epistles, between the First Adam and the 
Second, the Old Man and the New, imless we are to 
understand that each is a fountain-head of humanity — 
the one, of the humanity which fell in Eden, the other, 
of the humanity which triumphed on the Cross ? 

Now our connection with fallen humanity is an 
organic connection ; the First Adam has passed on his 
own injured nature to all his descendants. If, then, the 
Son of God became incarnate that He might be the 
Second Head of our race and infuse a supply of new 
life into our impoyerished nature, does it not follow 
that our connection with Him must be organic too? 
How else could we be "members of Christ," as our 
Catechism says all Christians are ? And the Catechism 
merely follows the still stronger language of S. Paul, 
who compares the connection between Christ and his 
members with that between Adam and his wife, who was 
made ^' bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh." The 
baptized, he says, are " limbs of Christ's Body, (growing) 
out of His flesh and out of His bones." He asserts the 
same doctrine in another way in his great chapter on 
the Resurrection of the body. " The first man Adam 
was made a living soul ; the last Adam was made a life- 
giving {ifomovow) spirit. Howbeit that was not first 


which is spiritual, but that which is natural ; and after- 
ward that which is spirituaL The first man is of the 
earth, earthy: the Second Man is the Lord from 
heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are 
earthy : and as is the heavenly, such are they also that 
are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the 
earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." 
S. Peter does not hesitate to say that Christians are 
made " partakers of the Divine Nature ; " and our Lord 
HimseK conveys the same idea under the image of the 
Vine and its branches, and still more emphatically in 
that wonderful Sacramental discourse recorded in the 
sixth chapter of S. John's Gospel. He calls Himself 
" the Bread of life,'* " the living Bread which came 
down from heaven." And then more plainly, "The 
Bread that I will give is My Flesh, which I will give 
for the life of the world." And when His hearers ques- 
tioned the possibility of such a gift. He repeated His 
assertion with a solemn asseveration : " Verily, verily I 
say imto you. Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of 
Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you. 
Whoso eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood Tmilh 
eternal life, and I will raise him up at the Last Day." 
I dare not explain away these solemn words. I must 
believe that they contain some deep meaning ; for it is 
incredible that our loving Saviour would have per- 
mitted Himself to indulge in misleading rhetoric. He 
saw that His very strong and solemn language was 


liable to be naisunderstood — that, in fact, it was mis- 
understood by the bulk of those whom He was address- 
ing. But He had not to think of them alone. Num- 
berless generations yet unborn were in His thought, in 
whose ears those words would sound as the glad tidings 
of a life from the dead. Like His own Incarnation, it 
was the lot of the doctrine on which He was insisting to 
be ^* set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, 
and for a sign which should be spoken against." But 
not one jot or tittle of that doctrine would He explain 
away. Bather than do so He was willing to risk not 
merely the desertion of the offended multitude but of 
His own small band of disciples. '^Will ye also go 
away?" They did not, for they acknowledged that 
His words were " the words of eternal life." But the 
question clearly implies that He would have preferred 
their forsaking Him to the alternative of watering down 
the ^'hard saying" which had offended and repelled 
the multitude. 

With such an example before me I dare not trifle 
with our Lord's emphatic words. I will not presume 
to say that they are metaphorical, seeing that Himself 
pointedly declined to admit any such interpretation of 
them when the people of Capernaum challenged them. 
But if not metaphorical, what are they ? Our reason 
revolts against their apparent meaning, and we may be 
tempted to ask, with the puzzled multitude, — " How can 
this man give us His flesh to eat ? " Our Lord Himself 


has supplied the answer. His words were true, and had 
a most real meaning. But they were not to be under- 
stood in any gross materialistic sense. « It is the spirit 
that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The 
words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they 
are life." In other words, when He spoke of giving 
His Flesh and Blood as the food of His people. He did 
not mean by flesh and blood anything that the bodily 
senses could apprehend or a chemist could analyze into 
its elements. In that sense our Lord's Flesh and Blood 
are certainly not present either in the Eucharist or 
elsewhere. It is true that He called on His disciples 
to testify to the reality of His "Flesh and Bones" 
after His Resurrection. True also, that the Fourth 
Article asserts that " Christ did truly rise again from 
death, and took again His Body, with flesh, bones, and 
all things pertaining to the perfection of man's nature ; 
wherewith He ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth 
until He return to judge all men at the Last Day." 
But it is evident that whatever is meant by the Flesh 
and Bones of our Lord's Resurrection Body they are 
generically different from our flesh and bones. What 
we call flesh and bone is simply a consolidation of cer- 
tain gases which may be resolved into their original 
elements; and then they cease to be flesh and bone. 
But while they remain flesh and bone they are subject 
to decay, and the ceaseless waste of tissue requires to 
be repaired by the assimilation of congenial nutriment. 


Therefore, a body of such flesh and bone as we have 
any experience of cannot subsist without food ; nor can 
it pass through material substances, such as a closed 
door, nor mount up into the air contrary to the law of 
gravity, nor become visible and invisible without ap- 
parent cause. But our Lord's Body did all this. It is 
incorruptible, and therefore needs no food. It passed 
repeatedly through a closed door.* It ascended through 
the air in a manner contrary to all the known properties 
of a human body. It appeared suddenly, and as sud- 
denly vanished out of sight. Even before His Eesur- 
rection our Lord's Body appears to have possessed pro- 
perties which ours do not possess, or possess only in 
germ. He walked upon the waves, and gave Peter 

♦ Dr. Vogan (*The Doctrine of the Eucharist,* pp. 558-560) 
denies this. He admits that our Lord's sudden appearance, ** the doors 
being shut," and His sudden invisibility, were miraculous ; but he 
maintains that in each case the subject of the miracle was not our 
Lord's Body, but in the first case the material substance of wood, 
and in the other the circumambient air. *' We can suppose that by 
His divine power the doors opened of their own accord for his admis- 
sion." " A body will disappear to one if the rays of light from it 
be intercepted, or if he will even close his eyes. And He who could 
'still the raging of the sea' could also change or suspend the pro- 
perties of the air, so as to prevent his person from being seen through 
it." That is to say, instead of our Lord's Body being supernatural, 
and therefore independent of the laws of matter, He possessed some 
talismanio Sesame which could open closed doors and close the open 
eyes of the multitude. By a parity of reasoning. Dr. Vogan would 
hold that our Lord ascended from Mount Olivet in an etherial 
balloon. I do not consider it necessary, nor would it be reverent, to 
discuss puerilities of reasoning like this. 


power to do so till his faith failed him. He made Him- 
self invisible on more than one occasion when His 
enemies were about to seize Him ; and He was trans- 
figured on Mount Tabor. This seems to show that His 
Body was in Its essence always a spiritual body. So 
that It could be emancipated at will from the laws of 
matter, and could retire within the sphere of spiritual 
laws. Of course His absolute sinlessness, and the union 
of His Sacred Humanity with His Divine Person, must 
always have made a certain difiFerence between His 
Body and those of ordinary men. But sin, with its 
consequences, does not belong to the integrity of human 
nature, though it suppresses the natural development 
of our bodies, so that they cannot realize their perfec- 
tion without the violent dissolution which we call 
Death. But surely the properties of the spiritual body 
are even now latent in our mortal frame, and, but for 
sin, might show themselves independent of the laws of 
matter, as our Lord's Body did occasionally before His 
Eesurrection, and normally after that event. 

When, therefore, the Fourth Article affirms that 
" Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again 
His Body, with flesh, bones, and all things pertaining 
to the perfection of man's nature, wherewith He ascended 
into Heaven," it does not at all follow that the phrase, 
" His body, with flesh and bones," connotes the same 
thing as it does in the case of our bodies. In fact, it 
cannot do so ; for '^ flesh and blood cannot inherit the 


kingdom of God^ neither doth corruption inherit in- 
corruption." Our Lord's Body possesses, of course, " all 
things pertaining to the perfection of man's nature." 
But it is certain that flesh and blood, bone and muscle, 
do not belong "to the perfection of man's nature." 
They belong to the region of decay and death, and 
therefore our Lord has them not. The terms may ex- 
press the nearest approach which our minds can now 
make to the conception of a spiritual body ; but they 
cannot be pressed literally without violence both* to 
Holy Scripture and to right reason. 

What, then, did our Lord mean by saying that He 
would give His Flesh and Blood for the food of His 
people? I admit that His words were, in a sense, 
figurative ; but they were figurative only in the sense 
in which all human language is figurative when it 
attempts to deal with the realities of the spiritual 
world. They were figurative because they expressed 
less, not because they expressed more, than He in- 
tended to convey. " It is the spirit that quickeneth ; 
the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak 
unto you, they are spirit and they are life." That is to 
say, even in material things it is not the gross mass 
of material particles that " profiteth," but that inner 
essence which is too subtle for the apprehension of the 
senses, and which eludes all the skill of science. A 
chemist can take any organized body, from that of a man 
to that of an acorn, and separate it into its component 


parts ; but the principle of life escapes in the process, 
and he cannot restore it with all his science. He can 
make, unmake, and remake a crystal ; but he cannot 
make a blade of grass, nor restore its yitality when it 
has fled. The lisping infant knows why a blade of grass 
grows just as well as the wisest philosopher. ^ It is the 
spirit that quickeneth." All things that live have their 
root in a spiritual cause, and that cause, in its last 
analysis, is God. ^^In Him we live, and move, and 
have our being," and apart from Him there can be no 
life. In this sense the whole uniyerse of life may be 
said to feed upon its God, and it is a glimpse of this 
truth which has given such yitality to Pantheism 
through all its manifold phases. 

Taking our Lord's explanation, therefore, together 
with the ** hard saying," of which the people of Caper- 
naum complained, it is easy enough to understand, 
though not easy to comprehend, the doctrine which 
He taught. By ''flesh and blood" He meant His 
real substantial humanity. In Baptism we are ''bom 
again," as He explained to Nicodemus ; we are made 
"members of Christ" — that is, we are brought into 
organic connection with His sinless humanity. And 
that connection is supernaturally maintained through 
the channel of the Holy Eucharist. Other ordinances 
bring us within the influences of His grace ; this places 
our humanity in actual contact with His, so that virtue 
goes out of It to feed us and gradually " transform our 


vile bodies, so that they may be fietshioned like unto 
His glorious Body." * 

It is no answer to this doctrine to say that it en- 
courages ''Sacerdotalism," and implies the existence of 
a class of men dealing in '' magical rites " and endowed 
to work " invisible miracles." As a matter of fact, it 
is not a bit more wonderful that the Second Adam 
should transmit His humanity to His members by 
means of two Sacraments than that the First Adam 
should pass on his humanity to his descendants 
through the instrumentality of two parents. The one 
is just as much an ''invisible miracle" as the other. 
They are equally beyond the ken of human intellect, 
and they are equally reasonable. 

But it is asked : How is it possible that our Lord's 
Body can be present at one aud the same moment on 
ten thousand different altars? "For though a spirit is 
so much more subtile than a material body; and a body, 
supposed to move like a spirit, may also be supposed to 
have inconceivable rapidity of motion, and the power 
of intimate penetration into and under other substances; 
yet no finite body can, in its very substance, be in more 
places than one at the same time. If it can, why not 
in many places ? Why not everywhere ? And so the 
finite would be, not finite, but infinite."! 

It would be just as reasonable to ask: How is it 

* See Appendix, Note B. 

t Dr. Vogan on ' The True Doctrine of the Eucharist,' p. 561. 


possible that the flesh and blood of a man living in 
Australia should be present in his children here in 
London ? As a matter of fact, Adam's flesh and blood, 
that i% his essential humanity, is present really and 
substantially in all the millions of his descendants. 
And shall we declare that to be impossible to God the 
Son which is an admitted fact in the case of the fallen 
Adam ? Shall the First Adam be capable of dissemi- 
nating his perverted nature among all the human 
beings who have come out of his loins ? And shall the 
Second Adam be incapable of imparting His life-giving 
Humanity to the members of His body ? 

But the plain truth is. Dr. Yogan and those who 
agree with him do not understand the doctrine which 
they controvert. Like the inhabitants of Capernaum, 
they seem unable to lift their minds out of the slough 
of naturalism, and they suppose accordingly that when 
we speak of the Beal Presence of our Lord's Body in the 
Sacrament we mean the presence of so many cnbic 
inches of ponderable matter. Can they not see that 
even their own bodies do not consist, after all, of the 
gross mass of material particles which sight and touch 
can apprehend. These are in a state of perpetual 
flux, passing away with every respiration, and enter- 
ing into new combinations. So that literally we have 
not the same body from hour to hour, viewed on its 
material side. Underlying this material covering, how- 
ever, is an informing substance which remains on- 


changed, and which is able to multiply itself indefinitely 
through the process of natural generation. But our 
Lord's Body is not a natural body, and does not belong 
to the natural, but to the supernatural, order of things. 
He came to create us anew, to place our poverty-stricken 
nature in communication with His own vivifying 
Humanity, so that a new life might circulate through 
our frame, and make us " new creatures." The Sacra- 
ments are thus the " continuation of the Incarnation," 
as I think Moehler calls them ; they are the channels 
through which the natare of the Second Head of our 
race is conveyed to His members. I know of no other 
way, for Holy Scripture reveals none, in which we can 
be made partakers of Christ. Faith is of course 
necessary ; but faith is useless if we refuse to use the 
means. Naaman's faith led him all the way to the 
Prophet of Israel ; but if he had acted on his first im- 
pulse and refused to "wash seven times in Jordan," 
what would his faith have availed him? And just as 
little will faith now avail the Christian who prefers the 
Abana and Pharpar of his own devices to the one 
simple way which the wisdom of God has provided for 
the cure of spiritual leprosy. There was no inherent 
virtue in the waters of Jordan to heal the leper any 
more than in the " rivers of Damascus." But God had 
chosen to energize through the one and not through 
the other ; and that made all the difierence. So now : 
there is no virtue in water or in bread and wine to heal 


the sinner of his hereditary malady. But if God has 
chosen, for the trial of our faith, to make those 
" beggarly elements " the channels of His grace, have 
we any right to reject the channels and still expect 
the grace? To my mind it does not appear at all 
more wonderful that bread and wine should, under 
God's appointment, be able to sustain our spiritual 
nature, than that bread and wine should be able to sus- 
tain our physical nature. Of themselves they could do 
neither ; as the channels through which His power acts 
they can, with equal facility, do both. 

The fact is, the popular prejudice against the Sacra- 
mental system, while ostensibly based on a jealous 
desire to exalt God's power, springs in reality from a 
contracted view of His power. " Every good gift and 
every perfect gift," alike in the kingdom of nature and 
of grace, " is from above, and cometh down from the 
Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither 
shadow of turning." But every one of these gifts 
reaches us through the intervention of some intermediate 
causation. A bountiful harvest is as much the fruit of 
God's grace as purity of heart. In the one case God 
energizes through the operation of rain, and sunshine, 
and human toiL Why should it be derogatory to His 
power to suppose that in the other case also it should 
energize through the agency of material instrumentality 
and human co-operation ? ** So long as its Sacramental 
principle remains," says an able and cultivated writer. 


" the Established Church rests upon a theory of religion 
utterly at variance with all the residuary varieties of 
Puritan faith, and amounting, as many of us conceive, 
to a reversal of the very essence of Christianity, for it 
intercepts that immediaieness of relation between the 
human spirit and the Divine which is the distinctive 
boon of Jesus to the world, and it reinstates that resort 
to mediation, 'and channels of grace,' and magically- 
endowed men, which it was His special aim to sweep 
away and render impossible."* This objection tells 
quite as much against man's physical organization as 
it does against the " Sacramental principle." There is 
no " immediateness jof relation " that we know of " be- 
tween the human spirit and the Divine." As at present 
constituted, Mr. Martineau's spirit holds relation to the 
Divine, not immediately, but mediately through the 
material organ of the brain, which again is sustained in 
its active vitality by constant supplies of earthly food. 
And is Mr. Martineau so very sure that he, too, does 
not ** resort to mediation, and channels of grace"? 
What, then, are the books or discqurses which instruct 
his intellect, the friends who kindle his affections, the 
sights and sounds which delight his imagination? What 
are these, and all the other innumerable influences which 
act beneficially on the soul of man, and lift it up in 
thankfulness and adoration to its God, but instances, in 
their own way, of that very "Sacramental principle" 

* * Why Dissent ?' By James Martineau, p. 14. 

L 2 


which is thoughtlessly supposed to be "a reversal of 
the very essence of Christianity T And as to ** magically- 
endowed men/' has it never happened to Mr. Martineau 
to meet any such? Does he know none of his ac- 
quaintance who possesses a magic influence, a subtle 
indescribable charm which he finds it hard to resist? 
And whence is that influence derived ? Is its origin in 
man ? Or does it not, like all things good and beautiful, 
come from Grod ? Is it not a fact that God does give 
to some men gifts which He denies to others ? — external 
gifts of wealth, social rank, and the like ; personal gift^, 
whether of physical beauty or of intellectual or moral 
endowments. And is it not true that by means of such 
gifts their possessors have a power of influencing their 
fellows for good or evil which others do not enjoy ? Why 
does Mr. Martineau encourage people to attend his place 
of worship and listen to his eloquent sermons ? Do not 
his voice, his words, his thoughts, "reinstate that resort 
to mediation . . . and magically-endowed men, which," 
he tells us, " it was His (Christ's) special aim to sweep 
away and render impossible " ? What is an eloquent 
preacher but a mediator "between the human spirit and 
the Divine " ? 

The truth is, all this declamation about "the difference 
between a sacerdotal and a personal Christianity " is 
pure unmitigated rant. I am far from saying that aU 
who indulge in it are conscious of the utter hollowness 
of their reasoning. My complaint is, that they are not 


aware of it. They use a traditional phraseology, which 
they do not take the trouble to understand, otherwise 
ihey would see that this theory of a personal as opposed 
to a sacerdotal Christianity leads to isolation and self- 
ishness, and finds its natural expression in the question 
of the first murderer, "Am I my brother's keeper?" 

What, then, are the ideas which lie at the root of 
what is called Sacerdotalism ? Speaking broadly, they 
are two in number : first, a recognition of man's un- 
worthiness to approach God ; secondly, his need of some 
check to counteract the innate selfishness of our nature. 

(1.) We are all intended, laity as well as clergy, to be 
" kings and priests unto God." If man had never fallen 
there would have been no need of a special priesthood. 
All would have been equally worthy to oflfer an accept- 
able service to their Maker, as all will be hereafter in 
Heaven. This is the ideal towards which we are to 
strive, and to help us to realize our own unworthiness 
it has pleased God to ordain an order of men, personally 
as unworthy as the rest, to be " ministers and stewards 
of his mysteries," or, as St. Paul elsewhere calls them, 
" ambassadors " between men and God. It is remarkable 
that the immediate cause of the appointment of the 
Aaronic priesthood seems to have been the public 
acknowledgment of unworthiness made by the general 
congregation. The circumstance is related as follows 
by Moses : — 

" And it came to pass when ye heard the voice out of 


the midst of the darkness (for the mountain did bum 
with fire), that ye came near unto me, even all the 
heads of your tribes, and your elders; and ye said. 
Behold, the Lord our God hath shown us His glory 
and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of 
the midst of the fire : we have seen this day that God 
doth talk with man, and he liveth. Now therefore why 
should we die ? for this great fire will consume us : if 
we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then 
we shall die. For who is there of all flesh that hath 
heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the 
midst of the fire, as we have, and lived ? Go thou near, 
and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and 
speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall 
speak unto thee ; and we will hear it and do it. And 
the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye spake 
unto me ; and the Lord said unto me, I have heard the 
voice of the words of this people, which they have 
spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they 
have spoken." 

Accordingly Aaron and his sons were consecrated to 
the ofiSce of the priesthood soon after this incident, and 
they became the appointed mediators between Jehovah 
and the general congregation. Still the people were 
not sufiered to rest in this as a final and unchangeable 
arrangement. Their true ideal was always kept before 
them. They were reminded that, in spite of the Aaronic 
priesthood, they still continued ideally " a kingdom of 


priests, a holy nation." They were unworthy now to 
realize that ideal ; but they were to rest satisfied with 
nothing short of it. And St. Peter, in like manner and 
for the same reason, addresses the Christians of his day 
as **a royal priesthood;" while St. John saw the ideal 
fulfilled when he heard the saints in bliss giving thanks 
for having been made ** kings and priests unto God." 

(2.) But, secondly, man needs something to counter- 
act the inborn tendency of his nature to become selfish, 
to think of himself too much, and of others too little. 
Now the notion of a personal as opposed to a sacerdotal 
Christianity is a notion which is thoroughly selfish, and 
therefore anti-Christian. For it implies that human 
beings are a mere aggregate of unconnected units, each 
complete in itself, and striving after its own perfection. 
And I can conceive nothing better calculated to foster 
this view than the doctrine that every man is to depend 
entirely on himself, neither needing nor receiving any 
help from his fellows. Mr. Martineau's premisses — and 
they are also the premisses of a theological school in 
our Church — would logically lead not only to the abo- 
lition of a special priesthood, but of all intercessory 
prayer whatever. 

The teaching of Christianity, on the contrary, is that 
human beings are essentially one family — "the whole 
family in heaven and in earth." And to impress this 
truth upon us God has made us necessary to each other. 
On the right hand and on the left, from the cradle to 


the grave, we need the help of others. Eelationships 
of all kinds and degrees branch out in all directions and 
enclose us in a complicated network of innumerable 
sympathies. Can anything be more certain than that 
God has made us the guardians of each other's eternal 
welfare ? Cannot parents train their children in such a 
way as to ruin them everlastingly ? Cannot all of us, 
men or women, priests or laymen, use any talent that 
God may have entrusted to our keeping in saving or in 
ruining the souls which come within the circle of our 
influence? What is there in the doctrine of Sacer- 
dotalism that approaches this in mystery ? The Church 
of England claims for her priesthood the power of ab- 
solving penitents. But this is an official, not a per- 
sonal, power. It has no effect if used against God's 
will ; and its efficacy depends, after all, on the state of 
the heart to which it is applied. But beauty of person, 
and charm of manner, and brilliancy of intellect and 
the like, are personal gifts, and may be used to the 
ruin of our neighbour against the will and intention of 
the Almighty Giver. What is there in the doctrine of 
Sacerdotalism so terrible and inexplicable as this ? Is 
it not a patent fact that we all stand in a kind of sacer- 
dotal relation to each other? And is the doctrine of 
the Christian priesthood anything else but one depart- 
ment of a system which pervades and governs the entire 
sphere of man's life on earth ? 

It is, of course, natural enough, and, in fact, inevit- 


able, that one who does not believe in the Trinity and 
Incarnation should reject the " Sacramental principle," 
since that principle means the perpetuation of the In- 
carnation. But surely nothing but an unreasoning pre- 
judice could prevent any intelligent believer in the 
Incarnation from seeing that the Sacramental System 
is its natural complement. In the minds of a number 
of people who sincerely believe in the Divinity of Christ 
the Incarnation is regarded as an historical event that 
took place some eighteen centuries ago, and whose in- 
terest for us is practically bounded by the Sacrifice on 
Calvary. According to this view Christianity is ab- 
sorbed in the Atonement, and the Atonement is not 
regarded as a process going on continually in its appli- 
cation to us, but as a past fact consummated once for 
all on the Cross, and having no direct relation to our 
life except in the way of having appeased an angry 
God, and therefore supplied a motive for lively grati- 
tude on our parts. Accordingly, in the Holy Com- 
munion no positive gift is supposed to be imparted. 
The Sacrament is only a symbolical picture of the death 
of Christ, well calculated to bring that event vividly 
before us, and to stir up grateful emotions in our hearts 
in consequence. But the God-Man is absent — far away 
beyond Sirius and the Milky Way; and we are to 
ascend where He is in imagination and feeling. And 
this is what is called the " spiritual presence " of Christ 
in the Holy Communion, or rather in the heart of the 


worthy commuDicant. It is manifestly no presence at 
all. • It is as if a man should think that he was spiritually 
present in India by dwelling in thought on a loved 
brother who happened to live there. In truth, the 
reality of our Lord's Humanity as subsisting and ener- 
gizing now has gradually and silently dropped out of 
the practical belief of a great many among us. Their 
gaze is ever backward, and they live in the memory of 
the past rather than in the enjoyment of the present* 
This explains why Ascension Day, which testifies to 
Christ's continued Humanity, has fallen into disuse 
among those who reject the Sacramental System. 

All this is a grave misconception of the central idea 
of Christianity. We are not to regard Christ as an 
historical character belonging to the past, but as a pre- 
sent Person out of whose life-giving Humanity virtue is 
continually going out for the healing of the nations. 
Human nature, viewed in the abstract, fell when Adam 
sinned ; but his descendants were made partakers of the 
Fall by their organic connection with the first parent. 
In like manner, humanity, viewed in the lump, was 
saved when Christ triumphed over sin and death. But 
the individual members of the race cannot be partakers 
of that salvation except by organic connection with 
Christ. It was no mere gazing on the aboriginal 
calamity of Eden that has involved us in the conse- 
quences of that calamity, nor is it by any mental gazing 
on the crucifixion of Calvary that we can be regenerated. 


The Human Nature of Christ must be communicated to 
us as literally as the nature of Adam, else we have no 
part or inheritance in the God-Man. Adam is present 
in all of us, truly, really, and substantially ; and if the 
Second Adam is not present in as real a sense we are 
not yet redeemed. But there is this difference. The 
nature of Adam is literally present in all of us, but not 
his person : that is incommunicable, and being finite it 
is limited and circumscribed in space. Our Lord's 
Personality, on the other hand, resides in His Divine 
Nature, and that is everywhere. So that He is Per- 
sonally present, and necessarily so, wherever His 
Humanity is present. 

Evangelical theology seems to me to be sadly wanting 
in breadth and depth. It is apt to take a low mechani- 
cal view of the great facts of Christianity and to fasten 
down their significance to what logicians call their 
"inseparable accidents." It practically regards the 
Sacrifice of Christ as beginning and ending on Calvary. 
What a poor notion such a view gives of the love and 
condescension of our Incarnate Lord! To us, with 
our limited vision and sense of guilt, death appears a 
great calamity. It puts an end to all our plans, tears 
us from a thousand endearing associations, and dismisses 
us to an unknown world and an uncertain destiny. To 
Him death was but a temporal incident in a life-long 
sacrifice. He "drank of the brook in the way," and 
passed behind the veil to offer HimseK as a " perpetual 


sacrifice."* The essence of seK-sacrifice is in the con- 
sent of the will. That once accomplished, the sacrifice 
is complete so far as the sufferer is concerned, though 
circumstances may require its consummation in the 
death of the victim. Abraham's self-sacrifice was com- 
plete when, in obedience to the Divine command, he 
raised his arm to strike his child ; and the Church has 
always conceded the crown of martyrdom to those whose 
martyrdom was only in will. God has been sacrificing 
HimseK from eternity. He is seK-sufiScient, absolutely 
perfect in the eternal harmony of a threefold Person- 
ality in an indivisible Substance. He needs nothing 
from without, and the created universe, therefore, with 
all its joyous sights and sounds, is but the overflowing 
of an infinite love which delights to share its blessedness. 
To Him this perpetual seK-sacrifice involves no pain 
because His love is perfect, and therefore "hath" no 
" torment." But when the eternal Son laid aside His 
manifold perfections, and circumscribed His infinitude 
by the imperfections of humanity, the pain that is latent 
in the love of all finite natures — the pain of unsatisfied 
yearning — became manifest "in strong crying and 


* Both the argument and the sense seem to require that fir ro 
difiv(K€s , in Heh. x. 12, should be connected with 7rpoa-€V€yKas. 

f " The best of men 

That e'er wore earth about Him was a sufferer — 

A soft, meek, patient, humble, tranquil spirit — 

The first true gentleman that ever breathed." — Dekker, 


He felt the outpourings of His self-sacrifice repelled on 
all sides by the sins of men, and driven back upon their 
source. " He could do no mighty work there because of 
their unbelief," and His human soul felt the pangs of 
bafiSed love. 

In self-sacrifice, therefore, lies the happiness of God. 
And this self-sacrifice is eternal ; first, in the relations 
of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity to each other, and 
then in the sphere of created life. In self-sacrifice lies 
our happiness also, if we only knew it. " Whosoever 
will save his life shall lose it ; and whosoever will lose 
his life for My sake shall find it" We must therefore 
somehow be partakers of Christ's sufferings. We must 
be brought en rapport with his enduring sacrifice ; and 
if we are to credit the testimony of Christian antiquity 
the Holy Eucharist is the means by which this is effected. 
Whatever we may think of the doctrines of the Real 
Presence and of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, it is the plainest 
matter of fact that they are the doctrines of the ancient 
Liturgies and the early Fathers. It would be easy to 
prove this ; but it would require too long a digression 
from my immediate subject. Let one passage sufiSce 
therefore by way of specimen. ** Be diligent therefore," 
says St Ignatius, " to make use of the one Eucharist ; 
for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and 
one chalice (for bringing us) into union with His 
Blood, and one altar, as also one Bishop, with the 
Presbyters and Deacons, my fellow-servants; so that 


whatever ye do, ye may do it according to the will of 

This testimony, be it remarked, is from a martyred 
Saint who lived early enough to have conversed with the 
Apostles. It possesses a value, therefore, only second 
to that of Holy Scripture, and it seems to me to prove 
these two things : first, that the Keal Presence and the 
Eucharistic sacrifice were then among the undisputed 
doctrines of the Christian Church ; secondly, that the 
ecclesiastical hierarchy then consisted of the three orders 
of Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon. Ignatius does not 
argue in favour of either ; he simply appeeds to them as 
admitted facts. But while insisting on this, I feel bound, 
at the same time, to express my opinion that no small 
part of the prejudice against these doctrines arises from 
the incautious advocacy of some High Churchmen, who 
are prone to use exaggerated language without taking 
any pains to explain their meaning. And this is true 
especially of the doctrine of our Lord's Eeal Presence 
in the Sacrament of the Holy Communion. 

Of course He is present to those only who have faith 
— that is to say, they only can ** discern" Him. Others 
may come in contact with Him, but they know it not. 
Blind men do not " discern " the light of the sun ; but 
it is there for all that. Its existence is an objective 
reality independent alike of the vision and blindness of 
those on whom it shines. And so, in the Holy Com- 

♦ Epist. ad. Philad., ch. iv. 


munioD, the faith of the communicant has absolutely 
nothing to do with the Presence of Christ. Faith 
creates nothing; its province is to receive some gift 
already existing independently of it. If it were not so, it 
would follow that when all the communicants happened 
to be without faith, a contingency by no means impro- 
bable, there would be no Sacrament at all. What the 
doctrine of our Lord's real objective Presence in the 
Sacrament, independently of the faith of the recipient, 
means is simply this : that the virtue of the Sacrament 
is rooted in a cause external to man. To insist, there- 
fore, on an exclusively subjective Presence is, in reality, 
to be a Pelagian. It is a curious ** Nemesis of faith " 
that those who began by decrying human nature as 
utterly depraved, and denouncing good works as " filthy 
rags," should end by ascribing to an act of man the 
whole credit and noierit of human salvation. Not by 
Divinely ordained Sacraments, not by any real parti- 
cipation in Christ's Humanity, not by anything external 
to himself, is man saved, but by faith, which is an 
internal act of his own soul. And so depraved 
humanity, after all, is able to save itself 1 How 
different is such a doctrine from that of those who 
accept the Sacramental principle ! for the essence of 
Sacramentalism lies in believing that everything beauti- 
ful and good and true comes from God, but almost in- 
variably through intermediate, and generally material, 
agency. So that the whole material creation is one 


vast veil of Sacramentalism behind which ** the Father 
worketh hitherto'* through all the forms of animated 
existence, from a daisy to an archangel.* 

But what has all this to do with the Athanasian 
Creed? Very much, as I humbly venture to think. 
For the attack on the Athanasian Creed is in reality an 
attack on the doctrines of the Trinitv and the Incarna- 
tion. Of course I do not mean to say that those who 
make the attack intend it in that sense. I know well 
that most of them would repel any such insinuation 
with just indignation ; and I have not the least doubt 
that they sincerely regard the Athanasian Creed as 
a dangerous outpost, the abolition of which would 
strensfthen rather than weaken the bulwarks of the 
Faith. I am quite sure that their intentions are admir- 
able. I am equally sure that their policy is thoroughly 
mischievous, and that its success would be disastrous to 
the faith, and therefore to the morals, of the people of 
England. It is possible that no very marked change 
would take place in your lifetime or in mine. But the 
reverse is also possible ; and, in any case, man does not 
live for himself alone, or for his own generation alone. 
It is the duty of everyone, however humble his position 
or abilities may be, to do what he can for God and His 
truth before he is summoned hence. One of the most 
ignoble sayings ever dictated by a selfish love of ease 
was that of the amiable Hezekiah when he heard of the 

* See Appendix, Note C. 


impending ruin of his country, for which he was partly 
responsible: — "Is it not good if there be peace and 
truth in my days?" 

Now I am not content that there should be " peace 
and truth in my days" only, even if I were sure of 
that ; which I am not. It is the bounden duty of us all 
to hand on the lamp of truth to our successors without 
any diminution of the sacred flame ; and for my own 
part — ^I say it with all humility — I would rather lay 
down the commission which I received from the Church 
of England than be a party to the abolition or mutila- 
tion of a Creed which has been a source of innumerable 
blessings to myself, and also, I venture to say, to many 
of those who have lifted up their heel against it, though 
they may not be conscious of their obligations. The 
Athanasian Creed is attacked because it is alleged to be 
" heretical " and uncharitable. Let it be surrendered in 
answer to that indictment, and what follows ? That all 
those passages in Holy Scripture which are identical in 
principle with the " damnatory clauses " must be given 
up as '* barbarian curses," excusable perhaps in the 
darkness of a rude and ignorant age, but quite unsuit- 
able to our enlightened ideas. More than one speaker 
in Convocation met this objection by the astounding 
plea, that denunciations which are right and proper in 
the Bible are quite unjustifiable in a human composi- 
tion, I call this distinction astounding because it is 
not only degrading to the Bible, but fatal to the first 


principles of morality. For it means, in plain English, 
that the Bible may have one kind of morality, cmd the 
creeds of Christendom quite another. I refuse to be- 
lieve anything so monstrous. No one shall persuade 
me that propositions which are "uncharitable," "un- 
true," and " barbarous " in the Athanasian Creed can be 
other than " uncharitable," " untrue," and " barbarous " 
in the Bible. Either the " damnatory clauses " of the 
Athanasian Creed are reasonable and just, or those of 
the New Testament are not. There is no escape from 
that conclusion. And it is a very serious one. For 
if the Athanasian Creed is unfit for congregational 
use on account of its "damnatory clauses," it follows 
that we must have an expurgated edition of the Bible 
for the public services of the ChurcL Not a single ob- 
jection can be urged against the " damnatory clauses " 
of the Athanasian Creed which does not apply with 
equal force against the " damnatory clauses " which are 
scattered plentifully up and down the New Testament. 
I will not dwell on the disputed passage in St. Mark, 
though Mr. Burgon's work on the subject seems to me to 
leave its genuineness at least an open question. It is 
not on an isolated passage here and there in the Bible 
that the doctrine of the "damnatory clauses" depends; 
it pervades the whole Gospel message. Both Our Lord 
Himself and the inspired writers of the New Testament 
insist on the necessity of a right faith as strongly as 
they do on the necessity ox moral rectitude. I am aware 


that the Dean of Westminster asserts the contrary. " A 
Creed," he says, ** which asserts in the most emphatic 
language that, in order to be * saved ' (whatever sense 
we attach to that word), it is * before all things neces- 
sary to hold the Catholic Faith,' can hardly be said to 
be in the spirit of Him who declared, * Not every one 
that saith unto the Lord, Lord, shall enter into the 
kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my 
Father which is in heaven;' or of His Apostles, who 
proclaimed, *In every land he that feareth God and 
doeth righteousness is accepted of Him;' or, * circum- 
cision availeth nothing, nor uncircumcision, but the 
keeping of the commandments of God ; ' or, ^ He that 
doeth righteousness is righteous.' " 

I humbly venture to suggest that these passages are 
not to the point If , as I believe, our Blessed Lord has 
revealed to us certain doctrinal truths which are neces- 
sary to salvation, then belief in them is necessarily 
implied in the texts which the Dean has cited. What 
warrant have we for supposing that belief in the Catholic 
Faith is excluded from the obligation to '^ do the will " 
of God, and to ^ keep his commandments ?" I know of 
none, and therefore I shall continue, till better informed, 
to believe that he who deliberately rejects an article of 
faith transgresses God's commandments as really and 
opposes His will as effectually as the man who breaks 
the moral law. 

The Dean admits, indeed, that '' other expressions of 

M 2 


another kind may doubtless be found in other parts of 
the Bible." "Let them be fairly considered," he says. 
"But they are not its key-note, or its general tone. 
They belong to modes of feeling on their face more or 
less transitory, more or less exceptional." Is this a cor* 
rect statement of the facts ? Let us see. 

" This is life eternal," says our Lord, " that they 
might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ 
whom Thou hast sent." Again ; when the Jews asked 
Him, " What shall we do that we may work the works 
of Grod ? " " Jesus answered and said unto them, *' This 
is the work of God that ye believe on Him whom He 
hath sent" And when He warns evil-doers of the doom 
that awaits them He tells them that '' He will appoint 
them their portion with {he mhelieveTs'* Here our 
loving Saviour Himself puts immoral living and perti- 
nacious unbelief on the same level, and He even seems to 
intimate that unbelief is the more dangerous of the two. 
The first condition of ** doing the works of God " is a 
right belief as to the doctrine of the Incarnation : " This 
is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He 
hath sent." Hold that faith in sincerity, and " the 
works of Qt)d" will follow as a natural consequence. 
Eeject it with your eyes open, and you place yourself 
outside the pale of salvation. For ** God so loved the 
world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoso- 
ever believeth in Him should not perish, but have 
everlasting life. He that believeth on Him is not 


condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned 
already, because he hath not believed in the name 
of the only-begotten Son of God." Nothing can be 
plainer than this. To forfeit " everlasting life," that is, 
to " perish," is here declared to be the lot of him who 
refuses to believe in the doctrine of the Incarnation. 
So far forth as a man rejects that doctrine he is **con- 
denmed already " — ^that is to say, he has, v^^o facto> 
placed himself beyond the pale of salvation. 

This is our Lord's teaching, and the whole scope of 
the New Testament confirms it. When the Philippian 
jailer asked Paul and Silas, " Sirs, what must I do to be 
saved ?" the Apostle replied immediately, "Believe on 
the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy 
house." John the Baptist certainly enjoined ** works 
meet for repentance" on those who flocked to consult 
him by the banks of Jordan ; but he also said, " He 
that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life ; and he 
that believeth not the Son shall not see life ; but the 
wrath of God abideth on him." " The disciple whom 
Jesus loved " is equally urgent as to the necessity of a 
true faith. " Whosoever denieth the Son, the same 
hath not the Father." And again ; *' He that hath the 
Son hath life ; and he that hath not the Son of God 
hath not life." Not to have life is to "perish," and 
therefore perdition is declared by St. John to be the 
inevitable doom of those who reject the doctrine of the 
Incarnation. And he deemed this truth so paramount 


that it was the principal motive of his writing his 
Epistle. " These things have I written unto you that 
believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may 
know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may 
believe on the name of the Son of God." Again : 
" Every spirit that eonfesseth that Jesus Christ is come 
in the flesh is of God. But every spirit that eonfesseth 
not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh ife not of 
God." Again : " Many deceivers are entered into the 
world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the 
flesh: this is a deceiver and an antichrist." Once 
more: "Look to yourselves, that ye lose not those 
things which ye have wrought ; but that ye receive a 
full reward. Whoever transgresseth and abideth not 
in the doctrine of Christ hath not God. He that 
abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the 
Father and the Son." To the same purport is St. Peter's 
denimciation of those "false teachers" "who privily 
shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the 
Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves 
swift destruction. And many shall follow their per- 
nicious ways (rats dTToAcMus) ; by reason of whom the 
way of truth shall be blasphemed." Here the denial of 
the Incarnation is said to be a "damnable heresy" 
(at/o€or€4s diTCDXetas), leading to " swift destruction." And 
the same doctrine is taught by the Apostle as the 
direct inspiration of the Pentecostal gift. Immediately 
after the outpouring of Pentecost he told the Jews that 
in " the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth alone " was 


salvation to be found : '* for there is none other name 
under heayen given among men whereby we must be 
saved." Will anyone tell me the difference between 
this Apostolic doctrine and the much-abused proposi- 
tion of the Athanasian Creed: "Which Faith except 
every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt 
he shall perish everlastingly"? The large-hearted 
St. Paul, too, who was willing to be " accursed " for the 
sake of his people, tells us that " all " are to be " damned 
who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in un- 
righteousness ; " that is to say, the deliberate rejection 
of the truth is in itself unrighteousness. There could 
not be a stronger assertion of the immorality of un- 
belief. And, as I have noticed above, " the imbelievers" 
are reckoned by St. John among those who "shall 
have their part in the lake which burneth with fire 
and brimstone ; which is the Second Death." " Anti- 
christs," "liars," "false prophets," "deceivers," "se- 
ducers," "grievous wolves," — such are the terms in 
which heretics are described by our Lord and His 
Apostles ; one of whom — he who is emphatically called 
•*the disciple whom Jesus loved" — does not hesitate 
to say that th^ sacred rites of hospitality ought reli- 
giously to be denied to him who impugns the doctrine 
of the Incarnation. " If there come any imto you," 
he says, "and bring not this doctrine, receive him 
not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for 
he] that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil 


To my mind these passages — and I have by no means 
exhausted all that might be quoted in the same strain — 
are absolutely identical in meaning with the " damna- 
tory clauses " of the Athanasian Creed. They must all 
alike be understood with the qualifications which com- 
mon sense suggests, and on which I have dilated to 
some extent already ; or they must all alike be con- 
demned and abolished. There is no other alternative. 
And therefore let the assailants of the Athanasian 
Creed look to it. They are putting a weapon in the 
hands of unbelief wherewith to destroy the authority of 
that Book which they all profess to revere. The state- 
ments which they denounce with such vehement 
thoughtlessness belong to the very essence of the Gos* 
pel and are an integral part of Christianity ; and I hold 
therefore that the Athanasian Creed and Christianity 
must logically stand or fall together. It is no answer 
to this to say that, as a matter of fact, the practical 
disuse of the Athanasian Creed in the Boman Church 
has inflicted no injury on the Faith. For I should be 
disposed, in the first place, to question the matter of 
fact. I have travelled a good deal in Italy, and I 
never heard the Athanasian Creed used but once in 
what might be called congregational worship. But I 
am bound to add that I have seldom met with an edu- 
cated Italian layman who could be said to have a firm 
hold on the fundamental doctrines of Christianity; 
while a vast number are, under a show of outward con- 


formity, practically unbelievers. I do not undertake 
to say that this religious indifference, which is so pain- 
ful a feature of Italian life, is necessarily traceable to 
the virtual abolition of the Athanasian Creed. But 
the facts are certainly coincident ; and I have no doubt 
that the withdrawal of the Athanasian Creed from the 
cognizance of the laity, and the substitution of less 
edifying credefr^ in its place, have been among the dis- 
integrating forces which have brought about the pre- 
sent religious condition of Italy. But, in the second 
place, the Athanasian Creed has never been denounced 
in the Church of Borne. It has been gradually dis- 
placed; but no indignity has ever been put upon it. 
And therefore its disuse does not react injuriously on 
the Bible. But to give it up deliberately and in the 
face of day as an uncharitable document which teaches 
doctrines "avowedly heretical," or "savouring of 
heresy," is to give up the very kernel of the Gospel 
There is not a single proposition in the Athanasian 
Creed of which the rejection does not involve the re- 
jection of Christianity. I make that assertion without 
the least hesitation, and I challenge all the gainsayers 
of the Creed to disprove it. Of course a person may 
from prejudice, or ignorance, or confusion of thought, 
or some other cause, be unable to embrace some of the 
propositions of the Creed, and yet remain all the while 
a good Christian. It is none the less true, however, 
that all the propositions of the Creed hang together. 


and that the rejection of any one of them would strike 
Christianity to the heart. The Dean of Westminster 
takes a different view ; and he has displayed much in- 
genuity in tracing out the various significations which 
have at different times attached to the word " person." 
But what then ? The word person has at last settled 
down into a definite meaning, and what matters it that 
it meant at one time a character on the stage or the 
mask of an actor ? Has the word " parson " no definite 
and legal meaning because it is simply a form of the 
word " person," and meant originally the same thing ? 
Or what would a judge think of the ingenuity of an 
advocate who should endeavour to evade the recognized 
meaning of the word " pulpit " by arguing that it meant 
originally a theatrical stage ? Would he not tell him 
that the argument was perfectly true as an historical 
dissertation, but not a bit to the point ? 

The fact is, many of us are listless about the 
necessity of maintaining the Faith in its integrity 
because we are not conscious of the innumerable evils 
from which it rescued us. The inspired writers of the 
New Testament lived in the midst of all the nameless 
abominations and cruelties which a false faith had 
brought upon our race ; and therefore they saw, with a 
vividness which we cannot realize, that a true Faith was 
the necessary correlative of a moral life, and was there- 
fore a matter of life and death to mankind. Hence 


their yehement denunciation of false doctrine and false 

Is the danger quite past ? Is morality safe without 
the safeguard of the Creeds ? Have we become so en- 
lightened that we can aflford to do without Christianity ? 
Some clever people seem to think so. They point to 
Unitarians and Pantheists whose virtuous lives put to 
shame the vaunted orthodoxy of Christians. But the 
argument is founded on a fallacy. For the fact is, that, 
bom as we are in a Christian land, and surrounded by 
Christian associations, we cannot conceive what the 
moral life of man would be apart from the ideas and 
graces which Christianity has planted in the world. 
Christianity is in the air, and those who avowedly refuse 
their allegiance to it talk, nevertheless, in Christian 
language, use Christian symbols, in some cases avail 
themselves of Christian rites, and act on the principles 
of Christian morals. The influences of the Christian Be- 
ligion are about us like the atmosphere pressing down the 
evil of our nature on all sides, but so imperceptibly that 
we are not conscious of it. Philosophers tell us that the 
air we breathe is impregnated with countless millions 
of life-germs which we imbibe with every inspiration, 
and any one of which has the power of reproducing 
itself speedily and indefinitely throughout our system. 
Similar to this is the all-pervading presence of Chris- 
tianity in a Christian land. It is not its votaries merely 
who receive of its benefits: they are, in a measure, 


shared alike by believers and unbelievers* All alike 
draw their moral life from Christian sources, repose on 
Christian sympathies, appeal to Christian laws. And 
therefore when any eminent writer, who happens to 
teach a sound morality while rejecting the Christian 
Faith, is adduced to prove that morality may exist apart 
from Christianity, I reply that in the instances produced 
it does not exist apart from Christianity. Not an un- 
believing writer can be named, from Bousseau and 
Voltaire down to the latest German sceptic, who has 
not purloined aU that is good in his writings from 

But I may be supposed to be a prejudiced advocate. 
Very good. I appeal to an advocate whose prejudices 
are all the other way ; I mean Mr. James Martineau, 
one of the most eminent Unitarians of the day. In a 
letter which he wrote and published thirteen years ago^ 
and which is printed in extenso in * Strictures on the 
Bev. James Martineau's Letter on the Unitarian Posi- 
tion, by the Bev. B. Brook Aspland,' Mr. Martineau 
makes the following remarkable confession: — "I am 
constrained to say that neither my intellectual nor my 
moral admiration goes heartily with the Unitarian 
heroes, sects, or productions of any age. Ebionites, 
Arians, Socinians, all seem to me to contrast unfavour- 
ably with their opponents, and to exhibit a type of 
thought and character far less worthy, on the whole, of 
the true genius of Christianity. I am consciom that my 


deepest Migatio'Mf as a learner from others, are in almost 
every department to writers not of my own Creed, In phi* 
loBophy I had to unlearn most that I had imbibed from 
my early text-books and the authors in chief favour with 
them. In Biblical Interpretation I derive from Calyin 
and Whitby the help that fails me in Orell and Belsham. 
In Devotional Literature and Beligious Thought I find 
nothing of ours that does not pale before Augustinei 
Tauler, and Pascal. And in the poetry of the Church 
it is the Latin or the German hymns, or the lines of 
Oharles Wesley, or of Keble, that fasten on my memory 
and heart, and make all else seem poor and cold. I 
cannot help this. I can only say, I am sure it is no 
perversity ; and I believe the preference is founded in 
reason and nature, and is already widely spread amongst 
us. A man's ' Church * must be the home of whatever 
he most deeply loves, trusts, admires, and reveres, — of 
whatever most divinely expresses the essential meaning 
of the Christian faith and life ; and to be torn away from 
the great company I have named, and transferred to the 
ranks which command a far fainter allegiance, is an 
unnatural, and for me an inadmissible fate." * 

The way to test how the world would get on without 
Christianity is to examine how it did get on without it 
when the experiment was made under the most favour- 
able circumstances. I have already said enough on that 
point, and I will not repeat it here. But for any one 

♦ * Stricture!!,' p. 5. 


who has been bom and bred in a Christian land to rail 
against Christianity and to adyocate an undogmatic 
morality is, what yourself lately described it, "a terrible 
imposture." For my own part, I do not scruple to say 
that, of the two, I woidd rather see a people in possession 
of a true faith and given over to immorality, than in 
possession of a false faith or no faith at all, and liying 
morally. And for this reason, that so long as a nation 
retains the true faith it possesses the means and the 
guarantee of a future regeneration. But let it give up 
its faith, and its morality will speedily follow, leaving 
no means of restoration behind. 

But we are told that "words proper for one age 
may be quite unsuitable to another ; and so this Creed, 
which was doubtless useful and proper when it was de- 
vised, seems quite inapplicable to our times, and why 
should we have it riveted for ever to the neck of the 
Church?"* I must say that I, for one, do not feel at 
all confident that the language of the Athanasian 
Creed is unsuitable to our time. On the contrary, I 
believe that its public recitation helps to keep down 
more than one latent heresy which would otherwise 
shoot above the ground and disseminate its noxious 
seed. It is impossible to read much of even the pro- 
fessedly religious literature of the day without finding 
traces of Arianism, Nestorianism, and Eutychionism ; 

* See Archdeacon Fearon's speech in Convocation, *GuaEdian,* 
May 8. 


and I decline altogether to admit, therefore, that the 
Athanasian Creed has become obsolete, and may be 
safely cast aside as an interesting, but useless relic from 
a bygone age. 

But if the case were otherwise, and I felt quite sure 
that there was not even the germ of an ancient heresy 
in our moral and intellectual atmosphere; even then 
I should strongly deprecate the disuse of the Atha- 
nasian Creed. This is not a time in which old land- 
marks can be safely removed. On the contrary, there 
are many reasons which should induce us to do all we 
can to ^' strengthen the things that remain." Remem- 
ber that if the Athanasian Creed is mutilated, or 
abolished, or its use made optional, it loses all its dog- 
matic authority, and no one can ever again appeal to 
it as a decisive touchstone of doctrine. Its authority, 
once gone, can never be restored. This point has been 
treated in so masterly a manner by Mr. Stuart Mill, 
that I shall make no apology for quoting the following 
somewhat long passage : 

" In attempting to rectify the use of a vague term 
by giving it a fixed connotation, we must take care not 
to discard (unless advisedly, and on the ground of a 
deeper knowledge of the subject) any portion of the 
ooimotation which the word, in however indistinct a 
manner, previously carried with it. For otherwise 
language loses one of its inherent and most valuable 
properties, that of being the conservator of ancient 


experience; the keeper-alive of those thoughts and 
observations of former ages, which may be alien to the 
tendencies of the passing time. This function of lan- 
guage is so often overlooked or undervalued, that a few 
observations on it appear to be extremely required. 

"Even when the connotation of a term has been 
accurately fixed, and still more if it has been left in 
the state of a vague unanalyzed feeling of resemblance ; 
there is a constant tendency in the world, through 
familiar use, to part with a portion of its connotation. 
It is a well-known law of the mind that a word 
originally associated with a very complex cluster of 
ideas is far from calling up all those ideas in the mind 
every time the word is used ; it calls up only one or 
two, from which the mind runs on by fresh associations 
to another set of ideas, without waiting for the sugges- 
tion of the remainder of the complex cluster. If this 
were not the case, processes of thought could not take 
place with anything like the rapidity which we know 
they possess. Very often, indeed, when we are employ- 
ing a word in our mental operations, we are so far from 
waiting until the complex idea which corresponds to the 
meaning of the word is consciously brought before us 
in all its parts, that we run on to new trains of ideas 
by the other associations which the mere word excites, 
without having realized in our imagination any part 
whatever of the meaning : thus using the word, and 
using it well and accurately, and carrying on important 


processes of reasoning by means of it, in an almost 
mechanical manner, so much so, that some metaphy- 
sicians, generalizing from an extreme C6ise, have fancied 
that all reasoning is but the mechanical use of a set of 
terms, according to a certain form. We may discuss and 
settle the most important interests of towns or nations by 
the application of general theorems or practical maxims 
previously laid down, without having had consciously sug- 
gested to us once in the whole process the houses and 
green fields, the thronged market-places and domestic 
hearths, of which not only those towns and nations consist, 
but which the word town and nation confessedly mean. 
** Since, then, general names come in this manner to 
be used (and even to do a portion of their work well), 
without suggesting to the mind the whole of their 
meaning, and often with the suggestion of a very small, 
or no part at all, of that meaning ; we cannot wonder 
that words so used come in time to be no longer capable 
of suggesting any other of the ideas appropriated to 
them than those with which the association is most 
immediate and strongest, or most kept up by the inci- 
dents of life : the remainder being lost altogether ; 
nnle9» the mind, by often conmously dwelling on them, 
keeps up the association. Words naturally retain much 
more of their meaning to persons of active imagination, 
who habitually represent to themselves things in the 
concrete, with the details which belong to them in 
the actual world. To minds of a different description 



the only antidote to this corruption of language is pre- 
dication. The habit of predicating of the name all the 
various properties which it originally connoted keeps up 
the association between the name and those properties. 
^^ But in order that it may do so, it is necessary that 
the predicates should themselyes retain their association 
with the properties which they severally connote. For 
the proposition cannot keep the meaning of the words 
alive if the meaning of the propositions themselves 
should die. And nothing is more common than for 
propositions to be mechanically repeated, mechanically 
retained in the memory, and their truth undoubtingly 
assented to and relied on, while yet they carry no 
meaning distinctly home to the mind ; and while the 
matter of fact or law of nature, which they originally 
expressed, is as much lost sight of, and practically dis- 
regarded, as if it never had been heard of at all. In 
those subjects which are at the same time familiar and 
complicated, and especially in those which are so in as 
great a degree as moral and social subjects are, it is 
matter of common remark how many important propo- 
sitions are believed and repeated from habit, while no 
account could be given, and no sense is practically 
manifested, of the truths which they convey. Hence it 
is that the traditional maxims of old expedience, though 
seldom questioned, have often so little effect on the 
conduct of life ; because their meaning is never, by most 
persons, really felt until personal experience has brought 


it home. And thus also it is that so many doctrines 
of religion, ethics, and even politics, have manifested, 
after the association of that meaning with the verbal 
formulas has ceased to be kept up by the controversies 
which accompanied their first introduction, a tendency 
to degenerate rapidly into lifeless dogmas ; which ten- 
dency all the eflforts of an education expressly and skil- 
fully directed to keeping the meaning alive are barely 
found suflScient to counteract. 

" Considering, then, that the human mind, in differ- 
ent generations, occupies itself with different things 
and in one age is led by the circumstances which 
surround it to fix more of its attention upon one of the 
properties of a thing, in another age upon another ; it 
is natural and inevitable that in every age a certain 
portion of our recorded experience and traditional 
knowledge, not being continually suggested by the 
pursuits and inquiries with which mankind are at that 
time engrossed, should fall asleep, as it were, and fade 
from the memory. It woM he in danger of being totdHy 
hst if the proposiiiom or formulas^ the results of the 
previous eo^rience, did not rema/in, ds forms of words it 
may be, b%U of words that once really conveyed, and are 
stiU supposed to convey, a meaning; which meaning, 
though suspended, may be historically traced, and, when 
suggested, may be recognized by minds of the necessary 
endowments as being still matter of fact, or truth. While 
the formulas remain the meamngm<iy at any time revive; 

N 2 


and as on the one hand the formulaB progressively lose 
the meaninff they were intended to convey ; so on the 
other y when this forgetfviness has reached its height and 
hegins to produce obvious consequences, minds arise which 
from the contemplation of the formulas rediscover the 
truth, when truth it was, which was contained in them, 
and announce it again to mankind, not as a discovery, 
hut as the meaning of that which they have been taught, 
and still profess to believe. 

"Thus there is a perpetual oscillation in spiritual 
(I do not mean religious) truths, and in spiritual doc- 
trines of any significance, even when not truths. Their 
meaning is almost always in a process of being lost or 
of being recovered. Whoever has attended to the 
history of the more serious convictions of mankind — of 
the opinions by which the general conduct of their lives 
is, or as they conceive ought to be, more especially 
regulated — is aware that even when recognizing ver- 
bally the same doctrines, they attach to them at 
different periods a greater or a less quantity, and even 
a different kind, of meaning. The words in their 
original acceptation consisted, and the propositions 
expressed, a complication of outward facts and inward 
feelings, to different portions of which the general 
mind is more particularly alive in different generations 
of mankind. To common minds, only that portion of 
the meaning is in each generation suggested of which 
that generation possesses the counterpart in its own 


habitual experience. But the words and propositions lie 
ready to suggest to any mind duly prepared the remainder 
of the meaning. Such individual minds are almost always 
to he found : and the lost meaning ^ revived hy them, again 
by degrees works its way into the general mind. 

" The arrival of this salutary reaction may, however, 
be materially retarded by the shallow conceptions and 
incautious proceedings of msre logicians. It sometimes 
happens that towards the close of the downward period, 
when the words have lost part of their significance and 
have not yet begim to recover it, persons arise whose 
leading and favourite idea is the importance of clear 
conceptions and precise thought, and the necessity 
therefore of definite language. These persons, in 
examining the old formulas, easily perceive that words 
are used in them without a meaning ; and if they are not 
the sort of persons who are capable of rediscovering the 
lost signification, they naturally enottgh dismiss the for- 
mula, and define the name withouit reference to it. In so 
doing they fasten down the nams to what it connotes in 
common t^e at the tims when it conveys the smallest quan- 
tity of meaning ; and introduce the practice of employing 
it, cormstently and uniformly, according to that connotor 
tion. The word in this way acquires an extent of deno- 
tation far beyond what it had before ; it becomes ex- 
tended to many things to which it was previously, in 
appearance capriciously, refused. Of the propositions 
in which it was formerly used, those which are true in 


virtue of the forgotten part of its meaning are now, by 
the clearer light which the definition diffuses, seen not 
to be true according to the definition ; which, however, 
is the recognized and sufficiently correct expression of 
all that is perceived to be in the mind of any one by 
whom the term is used at the present day. The ancient 
formulas are eontequently treated as prejudices; and 
people are no longer taught, as he/ore, though not to under- 
stand them, yet to believe that there is truth in them* 
They no longer remain in the general mind surrounded 
hy respect y and ready at any time to suggest their original 
meaning. When they contain truths, those truths are not 
only, in these circumstances, rediscovered far more slowly ^ 
hut when rediscovered, the prejudice with which novelties 
are regarded is now, in some degree at least, against them^ 

instead of being on their side Language is the 

depositary of the accumulated body of experience to 
which all former ages have contributed their part, and 
which is the inheritance of all yet to come. We have 
no right to prevent ourselves from transmitting to pos- 
terity a larger portion of this inheritance than we may 
ourselves have profited by. We can often improve 
greatly on the conclusions of our forefathers ; but we 
ought to be careful not inadvertently to let any of their 
premisses slip through our fingers."* 

• * System of Logic,' ii., pp. 219-225. Cf. Hooker, b. v., ch. xiii., 
13. "If time have worn out, or any other mean altogether taken 
away what was first intended, uses not thought upon before may 


I will not weaken the argumentative force of this 
striking passage by any words of my own. Its applica- 
bility to the Athanasian Creed is obvious. At present 
that Creed is accepted as an authoritative exposition 
of doctrine throughout the whole Church. " It is the 
authoritative word of the Church," says Dr. Newman, 
*^ and the infallible answer of the Church to all her 
children who ask questions on the subject of which it 
speaks." " The Church," says the Senior Professor of 
Theology in Maynooth College, ^ is fully committed to 
the perfect purity of each doctrinal statement in the 
Athanasian Creed, just as much as if that purity had 
been defined by a General Council." And Dr. DoUinger, 
in a letter which he has kindly written to me on the sub- 
ject, says that Boman Catholic theologians, '^ in their 
scholastic treatises on the Trinity and Incarnation, use 
the formulas contained in the Creed as a paramount 
authority." Hence, though the Creed has fallen out 
of popular use in the Boman Communion, its dogmatic 
authority remains unimpaired ; it retains its place in an 
0£5ce imposed on all the clergy, and meant theore. 
tically for the laity also ; none of its propositions have 

afterwards spring up, and be reasonable causes of retaining that 
which other considerations did formerly procure to be instituted. 
And it Cometh sometime to pass that a thing unnecessary in itself 
as touching the whole direct purpose whereto it was meant or can be 
applied, doth notwithstanding appear convenient to be still held even 
without use, lest by reason of that coherence which it hath with 
somewhat most necessary, the removal of the one should endamage 
the other." 


been called in question, and no indignity has ever 
been put upon it. It is therefore still a living autho- 
ritative Creed, and consequently, as Mr. Mill says, 
" while the formulas remain, the ineaning may at any 
time revive," however much it may be obscured or for- 

It is vain to pretend that this would be our case if 
any of the proposals for shelving the Athanasian Creed 
should receive the sanction of the Church of England. 
In the case of the Boman Catholic laity the Creed has 
simply undergone that process of obscuration so well 
described by Mr. MiU, and there are no " shallow con- 
ceptions and incautious proceedings of mere logicians ^ 
to impede a "salutary reaction." But if our "mere 
logicians" should unfortunately have their way, a stigma 
will be put upon the Creed ; its meaning will be "fas- 
tened down to what it connotes in common use at the 
time when it conveys the smallest quantity of meaning " ; 
and when a crisis arrives in which the Creed might be 
invaluable, " the ancient formulas are treated as preju- 
dices ; people are no longer taught, as before, though 
not to understand them, yet to believe that there is truUi 
in them ; they no longer remain in the general mind 
surrounded by respect, and jeady at any time to suggest 
their original meaning." A Creed fallen into desuetude 
can always start into life when the appropriate occasion 
arrives. A Creed deposed deliberately and of set pur- 
pose becomes a corpse, and has no resurrection for those 



who have degraded it. In the one case there is sus- 
pended animation ; in the other death. 

I havQ not gone into the historical objections against 
the Athanasian Creed : partly because I am not scholar 
enough to examine the question thoroughly ; but chiefly 
because, as I have already stated, I regard all such objec- 
tiong as absolutely irrelevant to the present controversy. 
Since, however, I have spoken somewhat disparagingly 
of Mr. Ffoulkes's Essay, I think I am bound in fairness 
to give some reasons for my opinion. 

Jlr. Ffoulkes's theory, then, stated briefly, is as fol- 
lows. In about a.d. 800, Paulinus, Patriarch of Aquileia, 
compiled the so-called Athanasian Creed, and, with the 
help of Charlemagne and Alcuin,foisted it on a credulous 
world as a genuine composition of the great Athanasius. 
And this with the diabolical purpose of causing a schism 
between Eastern and Western Christianity I 

This certainly is a sufficiently grave accusation 
against such hitherto irreproachable names as those of 
Alcuin and Paulinus, to say nothing of Charlemagne. 
There is a charitable old proverb which recommends us 
to say " nothing but good of the dead." But there are 
those who seem to think that when the grave has closed 
over a man, and he is no longer able to defend himselJ^ 
his fiBiir fame is a legitimate corpus viJU on which any 
wanton libeller who has a crotchet to air is at liberty to 
try his experiments. '' What excuse/' asks Mr. Ffoulkes, 


" can be made for men devoted to God, like Alcuin, like 
Faulinus, who could assist in propagating what they 
must haye known to be a fraud and a lie ? " And what 
excuse, let me add, can be made for a man devoted to 
Grod, like Mr. Ffoulkes, who could make such an atro* 
cious accusation against two great names on any evi- 
dence short of the clearest demonstrative proof ? What 
proof, then, does Mr. Ffoulkes produce in support of 
his very serious accusation ? None ; absolutely none. 
Conjectures he gives us in abundance, but not a scrap 
of evidence that can stand a moment's cross-examination. 
But you shall judge for yourself. Mr. Ffoulkes's solitary 
proof that the Athanasian Creed was wickedly forged by 
Paulinus in the year 800 is an extract from a letter 
addressed to him in that year by Alcuin. Here is 
the precious extract, which I quote with Mr. Ffoulkes's 
italics, but without the large type in which he has 
arrayed a portion of it : — 

" To my most beloved lord in the Lord of lords, and 
holy father. Patriarch Paulinus, greeting : 

'' I seem to have been refreshed inwardly, that the 
hidden flame of charity within my heart may be able to 
elicit at least some spark, lest that be extinguished 
which burns within me, now that I have opportunity to 
write something to one so dear. What ! when I have 
the privilege of looking upon letters from you sweeter 
than honey, do I not seem to hold converse wholly with 
all the flowers of Paradise, and with the eager hand of 


desire to pluck from thence spiritual fruits ? how much 
more, then, on perusing the trad (* libellum ') of your 
mod holy faUh^ adoriied with all the spotlessness of 
Catholic peace; eloquent and attractive in style to the 
highest degree ; in the truth of its ideas firm as a rock 
. • . . where, as from one bright and salutary fountain 
in Paradise, I beheld the streams of the four virtues 
irrigating not merely the rich plains of Italy, but the 
entire demesne of ecdesiadical Latinity. Where, too, I 
hehdd the golden outpourings of spiritual ideas eomr 
mingling abundantly with the gems of scholastic polish. 
Certainly you have achieved a work of immense profit 
aod prime necessity in appraising the Catholic faith as 
you have : the very thing I have so long desired myself, 
and so often urged upon the King, to get a symbol of 
the Catholic faith, plain in meaning and lucid in phrase, 
reduced to one compendious form, and given to all 
priests in each parish of every diocese to read, and 
commit to memory, so that everywhere the same faith 
might be uttered by a multitude of tongues. Lol 
what I had desired in my humility, has been supplied 
by your genius. With the Author of our salvation you 
have earned for yourseK a perpetual reward of this 
good intention, and praise amongst men for this perfed 

** I have printed in italics," says Mr. Ffoulkes, " those 
parts of it which I consider highly specific, and in large 
type what I consider absolutely distinctive. Most 


people win agree with me that one set of expressions 
is singularly descriptive of the Athanasian Creed: I 
hope to prove to their satisfaction that the other can 
describe nothing else." 

I should be very sorry to say anything offensive of 
Mr. Ffoulkes ; but if I am to speak my mind frankly 
I must say that this opinion of his seems to me to prove 
him to be absolutely destitute of the critical faculty. 
Let us look at those parts of Alcuin's letter which Mr. 
Ffoulkes considers "singularly descriptive" and "ab- 
solutely distinctive" of the Athanasian Creed. The 
" Libellus " which Alcuin praises, and which Mr. 
Ffoulkes seeks to identify with the Athanasian Creeds 
is described as " eloquent and attractive in style to the 
highest degree," and consisting of **the golden out- 
pourings of spiritual ideas commingling abundantly 
with the gems of scholastic polish." A writer who 
thinks this description "singularly descriptive of the 
Athanasian Creed" appears to me to be "a reasoner not 
to be reasoned against," but in a sense very different 
from that in which Dr. Johnson applied that phrase to 
Leslie. "Eloquent and attractive in style to the highest 
degree " is surely the very last criticism that any person 
not in blind slavery to a crotchet would dream of 
making on the Athanasian Creed. That it abounds 
with "gems" I have no doubt at all; but they are 
certainly not " the gems of scholastic polish." Alcuin, 
moreover, calls the * Libellus' of Paulinus "plain in 


meaning and lucid in phrase ; " and it is this description 
which Mr. Ffoulkes " considers absolutely distinctive *' 
of the Athanasi«in Creed. Well, there is no accounting 
for taste ; but Mr. Ffoulkes's notions of what constitutes 
plainness of meaning and lucidity of phrase is certainly 
very different from that of the assailants of the Athana- 
sian Creed. They have vexed the air with their com- 
plaints against what they consider its hard terminology 
and scholastic subtleties; and to be told thaf plainness 
in meaning and lucidity in phrase " are characteristics 
of it which are "absolutely distinctive" must be to 
them a very funny suggestion. In fact, Mr. Ffoulkes 
appears to me to be quite incapable of appreciating the 
value of his own quotations. He undertakes to " prove 
to the satisfaction" of his readers that Alcuin's praise of 
Faulinus's ' Libellus ' for being " plain in meaning and 
lucid in phrase " " can describe nothing else " but the 
Athanasian Creed. And how does he prove it? By 
quoting, five pages farther on, an injunction of Arch- 
bishop Hincmar to his clergy, ordering them to "commit 
to memorv the discourse of Athanasius on the Faith, 
beginning with 'Whosoever will be saved;' so as to 
understand it thoroughly, and he dbJe to jnU it into plain 
language*' Here we have the Archbishop of Bheims 
not only quoting the Athanasian Creed as "the discourse 
of Athanasius " within a few years of its alleged con- 
coction by Paulinus, but actually instructing his clergy 
to study it carefully in order that they may "be able to 


put it into plain language ;" it being already, according 
to Mr. Ffoulkes, so "plain in meaning and lucid in 
phrasiB " that such a description " can describe nothing 
else " but the Athanasian Creed ! Is Mr. Ffoulkes 
really serious ? Or is his book merely intended as an 
experiment on the credulity of the British public ? He 
is a learned man, I know. But learning is the bane of 
a writer who has fallen under the slavery of a dominant 
crotchet. The French Jesuit, Jean Hardouin, was a 
learned man ; yet he wrote an elaborate essay to prove 
that the Clcissics were written by monks in the Middle 
Ages, and urged in defence of his paradox the extra- 
ordinary plea that "it was no use getting up to read at 
four o'clock in the morning if, at the age of fifty, he was 
to think like other men ! " I know not if Mr. Ffoulkes 
has reached the age of fifty; but he certainly seems 
ambitious to earn the reputation of not thinking like 
other men. No one, surely, who was not committed 
per f(i8 et nefas to the establishment of a foregone con- 
clusion, would venture on the following assertion: — "Its 
(Athanasian Creed's) age and authorship have been 
established from hence. — A.D. 800 Alcuin compliments 
Faulinus in a glowing letter addressed to him on having 
supplied a great need by a recent work of his, which is 
thereupon described in terms hardly capable of being 
improved upon had he been describing this (Athanasian) 
Creed." * I have quoted this " glowing letter," and I 

* Mr. Ffoulkes ' On the Athanasian Creed,' p. 273. 


appeal to you whether it would not be more true to 
say that whatever the document may be to which it 
refers, it is simply impossible that it can be the Athana- 
sian Creed, The very points on which Mr. Ffoulkes 
relies disprove absolutely the conclusion which he seeks 
to extract from them; and, in addition, it is evident 
from Alcuin's letter that the ^Libellus' on which he 
i& commenting contained an exposition of ^Hhe four 
virtues," not a trace of which is discoverable in the 
Athanasian Creed. Yet Mr. Ffoulkes assures us, with 
wearisome iteration, that in this very letter Alcuin '^has 
solved a long-vexed historical problem for us of high 
interest, which, but for this stray letter of his, might 
never have been unlocked to the end of time, but which, 
touched with the key supplied here, tells its own tale, 
from beginning to end, in the simplest form." All this, 
and much like it, is said with such calm complacency 
that it is impossible to suspect the writer of an elaborate 
attempt to gull his readers. He really is not joking. 
He means what he says, and it is evident that he is not 
haunted by the sb'ghtest misgiving as to the perfect 
soundness of his reasoning. Am I not justified in saying 
that however learned such a writer may be, he is simply 
destitute of the critical faculty? If Mr. Ffoulkes's book 
is to pass as a specimen of good reasoning, all I can say 
is that, for the future, anything may be proved by 

" But if the Athanasian Creed was really the work of 


Paulinus, how," Mr. Ffoulkes pertineiitly asks, " came 
the title which it has always borne to have been given 
to it ? " How indeed ? But Mr. Ffonlkes is equal to 
the occasion. "K people were christened after their 
patron saints, why should not their works be ? " Is it 
really necessary to point out to Mr. Ffoulkes that in 
the one case there is no possibility of deception, in the 
other there is? ** Besides," Mr. Ffoulkes goes on, 
" ' Call your picture a Raphael or a Bubens, whatever 
its intrinsic excellencies, if you wish it to attract 
general notice,' is what people say still." I do not 
know who the people are who say so, and I rejoice that 
I have not the honour of their acquaintance. "But 
thirdly," says Mr. Ffoulkes, " Paulinus was not the pub- 
lisher of his own work. It was taken out of his hands 
by his imperial master, and appropriated to a public 
purpose." Where did Mr. Ffoulkes learn this interest- 
ing fact ? Where he learnt most of the dafat on which 
his theory is based — in the secret depths of his inner 
consciousness, Not a single scrap of evidence does he 
even pretend to adduce in support of it. This, I humbly 
venture to think, is a little too cooL Mr. Ffoulkes left 
the Church of Rome because he would not accept the 
dogma of Papal Infallibility. He must excuse me for 
saying that I decline to accept the origin of the Atha- 
nasian Creed on no better evidence than Aw personal 
infallibility ; which is positively the only evidence that 
he has yet given to the world. 


But I have not yet exhausted his oracular reyela- 
tion& Paulinus, forsooth I may have had a nam de 
flume. "Why should it not have been Athanasius?" 
Very good, Mr. Ffoulkes ; produce your evidence from 
contemporary sources. "Unfortunately," replies Mr. 
Ffoulkes, "there is not a grain of evidence in their 
writings — at least, in those that have come down to 
us — ^that he was ever known to them by that name." 
But what then ? Is Mr. Ffoulkes's theory to collapse 
for lack of evidence? To avoid so dire a calamity 
Mr. Ffoulkes will manufacture evidence; and so he 
calmly suggests, with all the hushed emphasis of italics, 
that Paulinus, after all, miMt have had a nom de plume ; 
but " thda his assumed name was known only to the initiated, 
a/nd kept a profound secret from all else.*' Yet, after all, 
" it matters little whether this was so, or whether the 
name of St. Athanasius was given to the Creed alone, 
so long as there was concealment. And concealment in 
one way or other, and for some deliberate purpose, there 
must have been, otherwise the origin of this Creed could 
not have remained so long a mystery."* 

I really feel that I owe you an apology for giving you 
the trouble of reading such childish stuff as this. But 
since Mr. Ffoulkes's book has been puffed into a degree 
of notoriety which its merits would never have secured 
for it, I must ask leave to inflict upon you one or two 
more specimens of his method of reasoning. 

♦ * On the Athanasian Creed,* pp. 240-242. 



His theory is that the Athanasian Creed was forged 
by Paxiliniis about the year 800, with the guilty conni- 
vance of Alcuin. And certainly if Alcuin connived at 
the fraud at all, it must be owned that he did it on the 
**Pecca fortiter" principle. For we find him, within a 
year or two of the alleged compilation of the Creed by 
Paulinus, writing of it thus : — 

'^ The blessed Athanasius, the most revered Bishop of 
the city of Alexandria, then ... in the ' Exposition of 
the Catholic faith,' which the iUustricms doctor himsdf 
composed, and which the Universal Church professes, 
declares the procession of the Holy Spirit from the 
Father and the Son in these words." 

And then follows a quotation from the Athanasian 
Creed as we have it now. We are asked to believe 
therefore, without a grain of evidence, that our own 
great Alcuin was such an unprincipled scamp as to 
declare deliberately, in a set treatise, that the Athana- 
sian Creed was really composed by Athanasius himself 
having just about the same time, and in a letter ap- 
parently not meant to be confidential, ascribed it to 
Paulinus. We are to believe, further, that this fraud 
was perpetrated for the fell purpose of destroying the 
Unity of the Catholic Church. And, last of all, we are 
to believe that, in addition to being an astute rogue, 
Alcuin was, withal, such ^an egregious fool as to declare 
publicly of a forged Creed, of which the ink was scarcely 
dry, that " the Universal Church professed it." 


With one more specimen of Mr. Ffoulkes's ** short 
method " of reaching his conclusions, I shall take leave 
of the most abortive essay in historical criticism that it 
has ever been my lot to peruse. In the year 798 Bishop 
Denebert, on his consecration to the See of Worcester, 
made a confession of faith in which occurs this passage: — 

''Ego autem juxta ritum sacri nostri canonis et 
secundum ecclesiasticamregulam quemadmodum virium 
possibilitas permittit, onmem obedientise famulatum 
cum intima cordis devotione, una cum omnibus qui 
mecum sunt in Domino, tuis piis prseceptis exhibiturum 
esse, veridico fine tenus profiteer ore ; insuper et ortho- 
doxam catholicam apostolicamque fidem sicut didici, 
paucis exponam verbis, qwia scriptvm est, ' Quicunque 
vult salvus esse ante omnia opus est illi ut teneat 
catholicam fidem/ " * 

And then the Bishop proceeds to quote a portion of 
the Athanasian Creed. Now let it be remembered that 
according to Mr. Ffoulkes's hypothesis the Athanasian 
Creed was composed in or about a.d. 800. Probably 
800; for Aleuin's letter, written in that year, implies 
that the 'Libellus' which he criticizes had just been 
published. Yet here we have an English Bishop quoting 
the Athanasian Creed in the year 798, and quoting it 
in such a way as to imply that it was then a well-known 
confession of faith. 

* ' Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents,* by Stubbs and Haddan, 
p. 626. 

O 2 


It was, of conrse, impossible for Mr. Ffonlkes to ignore 
Denebert's profession of faitk^ for Waterland makes a 
point of it. But he gets over the difficulty, more sua, 
by a series of conjectures which have absolutely not the 
shadow of a foundation in fact He will not believe that 
Denebert could have learnt a confession of faith, em- 
bodying a portion of the Athanasian Creed, from any- 
body but Alcuin. " Who had put it into his mouth ? 
Why not Alcuin ? Alcuin had many disciples in Eng- 
land, of whom Denebert may have leen one ; was always 
corresponding with them ; a/nd would he sure to give them 
the earliest intelliffence of a new work hy Faulinus, When 
he wrote to express his admiration of it to its author, it 
had not been named — perhaps contained no damnatory 
clauses at all, but the first. And Alcuin may have 
simultaneously quoted the first half of it as a specimen 
to Denebert. whose consecration was impending ; for the 
dates in each case are too close, without either being 
fixable to a year, to present any difficulty. . . . Alcuin's 
letter, for instance, may have been written a year sooner ■ 
or Denebert's consecration a year later''* 

And it is on the strength of absurd criticism like this 
that we are seriously called upon to give up the Atha- 
nasian Creed ! Eead again Alcuin's letter, on which 
the whole of Mr. Ffoulkes's theory hangs, and you can 
hardly doubt that the ' Libellus,' which he praises so 
highly, had just appeared. Now Alcuin's letter was 
♦ * On the Athanasian Creed,* p. 296. 


written in the year 800. And yet two years before 
this date an English Bishop quotes the Athanasian 
Creed as a document then well known in England. 
QiMa Scriptum est is not the way in which a newly 
published tract would have been quoted. The phrase 
implies at once the antiquity and the public authority 
of the document. And we are to set aside this conclu- 
sive evidence because an impracticable crotchet-monger 
in the nineteenth century thinks fit to suggest that 
the facts " may have been," " perhaps " were, " would 
be sure " to be otherwise I Mr. Ffoulkes believes that 
the Athanasian Greed was concocted, for the worst of 
purposes, by a triumvirate of fraudulent liars, namely, 
Charlemagne, Paulinus, and Alcuin ; and if the facts do 
not square with his theory, so much the worse for the 
facts. Ffoidkes locutm edy causa jmita est. Witness 
the following suggestion : — '^ If we should say that the 
damnatory clauses of the Athanasian Creed were dic- 
tated by him (Charlemagne) originally, or inserted with 
his own hand in revising it, we should probably not be 
£ar wrong."* Why? Simply because Mr. Ffoulkes 
chooses to say so. We are to accept the dicta of his 
infiallible imagination, not merely in lieu of facts, but 
in spite of them. There is not one of his conclusions 
which is not based on an " if," a *' perhaps," a " may 
have been " or a ^ probably ;" and he does not seem to 
take it to heart that his various hypotheses do not 

* < On the Athanasian Creed,' p. 260. 


hang together, but that, on the contrary, like the pots 
which went sailing down the stream, they crack each 
other. And yet he has the assurance to wind up his 
argument, if a conclusion without premisses may be 
called an argument, in the following manner : 

" This, then, is the solution of the mystery that has 
so long enveloped the Athanasian Greed. It was at 
once the expression of Latin dogmatism and the lever 
of Latin despotism : a symbol of the impending subju- 
gation of the Church of Christ, both in thought and 
act, to a spirit which was neither of Jerusalem, nor yet 
of Grece, but of Eome — of Eome first pagan, and then 
Christian. Every time we recite the Athanasian Creed 
it is reason not Scripture that speaks : * Charlemagne 
not Athanasius that e:$pounds : a faith deliberately set 
up in opposition to the faith of Nicaea and Constan- 
tinople that is professed. All this is incontrovertible, 
unless the facts which have been adduced are not 
facts." t 

" Unless the facts which have been adduced are not 
facts!" Why, he has not adduced a single fact which 
does not tell against his theory. And as to the Atha- 
nasian Greed being " a faith deliberately set up in oppo- 
sition to the faith of Nicaea and Constantinople," I 
will only say that the man who could make such an 
assertion proves himself to be as deficient in theo- 

^ Does Mr. Ffoulkes mean to imply that reason and Scripture are 
in opposition to each other ? His words can have no other meaning, 
t * On the Athanasian Creed,' p. 276. 


logical^ as he has abundantly proved hinmelf to be in 
critical, acumen. 

And now I take my leave of Mr. Ffoulkes. I should 
be sorry to hurt his feelings unnecessarily ; but I must 
say plainly that a man who deliberately-96ts himself to 
disturb the faith of Christendom and to traduce, with- 
out a scintilla of evidence, the characters of great men 
who were benefactors of their race, and who lived and 
died without reproach, deserves no consideration. Mr. 
Ffoulkes would not dare to publish such a libel on the 
charckcters of living men. Does he think that he owes 
no duty of charity or justice to the dead ? 

It will be a relief to you, I have no doubt, to be 
assured that I am drawing to the close of this long 
letter — the longest, probably, that any correspondent 
has ever inflicted on you. The subject is a very fruit- 
ful one, and my pen has already run on to a length fax 
beyond my intention when I began to write. There 
are still a number of points on which I have not 
touched, and on which I should like very much to 
enlarge ; but I am afraid of wearying you, and I shall 
therefore compress what I have still to say into very 
narrow compass. 

One of the objections to the Athanasian Creed is 
that it rests man's salvation on a speculative belief in a 
number of theological propositions, to the disparage- 
ment of practical morality. No charge could be more 
untrue. The conclusion of the whole Creed is that holi- 


ness of life and orthodoxy of faith are inseparably con- 
nected. ** They that Tiave done good shall go into life 
everlasting, and they that have done evU into everlast- 
ing fire. This is the Catholic Faith, which except a 
man believes faithfully he cannot be saved.*' Ever- 
lasting salvation is made to hinge, therefore, not on the 
barren assent of the intellect to certain dogmatic pro- 
positions, but on a faith eventuating in good works. 
Even men of latitudinarian opinions in matters of 
religion have been fain to admit this. The late Dr. 
Donaldson, for instance, speaks of the Athanasian Creed 
as "a symbol or Creed not less distinguished from 
other documents of the same class by the logical 
accuracy of its theological statements than by the 
earnestness with which it insists on the necessity of a 
sober, righteous, and godly life."* 

Another accusation against the Athanasian Creed 
is that it narrows the basis of Church Communion by 
practically excommunicating all who do not accept its 
technical phraseology. Instead of answering this objec- 
tion myself, I shall take the liberty of quoting at length 
the answer of one who incurred no small unpopularity 
in his lifetime for propounding what many thought lax 
and dangerous views on some of the religious questions 
of the day. I mean Dr. Donaldson, to whom I have 
already referred. The following passage occurs in his 
' Christian Orthodoxy ' (pp. 467-470) :— 

^^ It is a mistake to suppose that a Creed, at the time 

* * Christian Orthodoxy,' p. 465. 


when it is put forth, is intended to narrow the basis of 
the Church, The obvious purpose of such a Symbol or 
passport of admission into a Church must be to include 
as many as possible, and this not so much by precise 
and logical statements of what the believer must pro- 
fesSy as by negativing certain propositions which tended 
to break up the Church into a number of sects. As we 
have shown in the text, the Church Catholic, and even 
a national Church, is necessarily more comprehensive 
than any community of men who dissent on particular 
grounds. It has been well remarked, that even the 
othodox settlements of the Creed ' were in fact expres- 
sions of dogma, which did act as comprehensions in 
their time. As, for instance, even the final expression 
of the doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Son with 
the Father comprehended as many as could possibly be 
comprehended within the terms of one and the same 
profession, considering the antagonistic theories between 
which that declaration placed itself;' so that ' the hete- 
rodox parties commenced the war of limitations,' and 
* sought by definitions to narrow the Church of Christ,' 
whereas the orthodox party merely swept away these 
specialities. — (Wilson, * Bampton Lectures,' p. 55.) 

" In asserting the doctrine of the Trinity, the Atha- 
nasian Creed is much more engaged in contradicting 
erroneous views than in binding down the professors of 
Christianity to any particular theory on the subject. 
In asserting generally both an Unity of Grodhead and a 
Trinity of Persons, this Creed meets with a contradic- 


tion all the mischievous theories which had originated 
from that doctrine. The heresies specially combated 
are the Arian, Sabellian, Nestorian, Eutychian, and 
Apollinarian. We have seen that false religion gene- 
rally assumes one of three forms — polytheism^ d/uaUrnn^ 
or pa/ntheism. The polytheistic view of the doctrine of 
the Trinity would convert the three persons into three 
Gods^ or establish a tritheism instead of an unity of 
Godhead To this the Athanasian Creed opposes itself 
by a series of repeated contradictions from the seventh 
verse to the nineteenth, both inclusive. In passing 
from the crudest form of false religion to the antago- 
nistic monotheism, the advocate of the orthodox faith 
in the Trinity had to combat two erroneous applica- 
tions of that true belief. Monotheism sometimes re- 
presented itseK as a recognition of one Supreme Deity, 
with certain ministerial agents subordinated to him, 
who constituted a class of secondary gods. This view 
was applied to the Trinity by Arius, who was thus 
guilty of a division of the divine Substance or entity. 
On the other hand, monotheism appeared as a recog- 
nition of only one God, who, however, acted upon or 
in the world by a merely temporary personification ol 
Himself. This was the view applied to the explanation 
of the Trinity by Sabellius, who thus fell into the error 
of confusing the Persons. It will be seen that the 
Arian theory verged towards polytheism and repre- 
sented the views of the Greeks ; kou yap KOKewoiy says 
Athanasius (c. Aricm, iii., 16, p. 423, Newman's trans- 


lation), (iScnr^ Ksu ovros, tJ icrurci Aarpcvovo-i irapa tov 

HrUrmrra ra irai^ra tfcov ; and he adds that this is really a 
kind of polytheism: *the Arians are greater traitors 
than the Jews in denying the Christ, and they wallow 
(<n7#n;Xtbvrai) with the Grentiles, hateful as they are 
to Grod (^cooTvycts), worshipping the creature and many 
deities.' On the other hand, Sabellianism inclined to 
the Judaism of the times before the Exile, when 
God appeared among men by his angles or maVhiMmy 
and so Basil said that Sabellianism was merely 
Judaism under the form of Christianity {Ep. 210, 3: 

'I(W&u(r/xds i<mv 6 "^afitXXurfjid^ cv irpoayi^fJLaTi Xpurn- 

ayuTfjLov; cf, Euseb. e. Marcellwn^ i. 8). These two 
antagonistic theories are contradicted together in the 
Symbolum Quicunquey yy. 3-6. As the polytheistic 
view was represented in greater or less degrees by 
Tritheism and Arianism, so the dtMlistie error found 
its approximation in the doctrines of Nestorius, who 
asserted that in Christ there were not only two natures 
but two persons ; and pantheism asserted itself in the 
hypothesis of Eutyches, who denied the two natures 
in Christ, and maintained that the human was swallowed 
up in the diyine. This latter doctrine, that of the 
Monophysites, as it is called, seems to haye originated 
in the yiews of ApoUinaris in the preyious century, 
who held that Christ could not haye had a human soul ; 
that the Word dwelling in him must haye been his 
only source of reasoning and information; and this 
was of course a denial of the two perfect natures, and 


an approximation to paMJimm. Opposed as they 
were in other respects, it seems that the pcmtheiem of 
ApoUinaris inclined to the polytheism of Arius, and the 
dualism of Nestorius to the monotheism of Sabelliua. 
*If,' says Dr. Newman (on Athanas. ii. p. 292), *the 
opposites of connected heresies are connected together, 
then the doctrinal connection of Arianism and Apolli- 
narianism is shown in their respective opposition to the 
heresies of Sabellius and Nestorius. Salij (Eidych. aut 
Hfui. 10) denies the connection, but with very little 
show of reason. La Croze calls ApoUinarianism 
Arianismi tradv>x (Thes. Ep. Lacroz. t. 3, p. 276).' 
The Athanasian Creed stands in no direct antagonism 
to the Eutychians, whose views were not published till 
a later part of the same century, but their positions are 
fully denied by anticipation in vv. 27-35. ApoUinaris, 
however, is referred to and contradicted in v. 30, where 
it is stated that ^ Jesus Christ was perfect God and 
perfect man of a reasonable soul and human flesh sub- 
sisting ; ' and there is an equally immediate rebuke to 
Nestorius in v. 32, where it is added that although 
Jesus ^be God and man, yet He is no^ two Ivi one 

"In thus putting a veto on the precise limitations 
of belief, which would have narrowed the Catholic 
Church to the dimensions of a dogmatic sect, the 
Syrrihdwm Quicunque does not itself advance any theory 
respecting the Trinity. Its doctrine is given in 


w. 20-26, and these statements are followed by the 
assertion of a real incarnation, of the fact that Christ, 
whose divinity had been previously maintained, was 
in every sense a human being also — * God, of the sub- 
stance of his Father, begotten before the world ; and 
mctn, of the substance of his mother, bom in the world ' 
— and therefore * equal to the Father, as touching his 
Godhead, and inferior to the Father, as touching his 
mctnhood.' The doctrine of the Trinity, thus generally 
conceived, is, as we have shown in the text, not specu- 
lative but practical, and capable of leading directly to 
holiness of heart and life."* 

I think I have suflSciently exposed the fallacy of 
arguing for the abolition of the Athanasian Creed on 
the plea that it is not used in the congregational 
services of the Church of Eome. But there is one 
answer at which I have only hinted, and which I will 
now state somewhat more fully. It is true, as I have 
already admitted, that the office of Prime, in which the 
Athanasian Creed occurs, has almost entirely ceased to 
be a lay service in the Boman communion. But it is 
still in theory, as it originally was in practice, an office 
intended quite as much for the laity as for the clergy ; 
and its restriction to clerical use is one of those abuses 
which the Beformers professed to abolish when they 
rearranged the Ancient Offices for the avowed purpose 

♦ * Christian Orthodoxy,' pp. 467-470. 


of making them congregational. It is an abuse, too, 
which some of the most distinguished members of the 
Church of Rome lament, and of which they would be 
very glad to get rid. " There can be no doubt," says 
the late Cardinal Wiseman, *'that, while the ancient 
Christians had their thoughts constantly turned towards 
Gk)d in private prayer, the Church took care to provide 
for all the regular and necessary discharge of this duty, 
hy her pvhlie offices. These were not meant to be holi- 
day services ; or mere clerical chdies ; Imt the ordinary 
daily, and sufficiervt discharge of an obligation "belonging 
to every state a/nd class in the Chwrch, . . . Unfortunately 
those offices have, for the most part, been reduced to a 
duty discharged by the clergy in private, and have thus 
come to be considered by us as a purely ecclesiastical 
obligation superadded, not comprehending, the discharge 
of ordinary Christian duty. One is apt to forget thai Prime 
is the ChwrcKs m>oming prayer, and Complin her evening 
devotion. . . . Why should not this be restored ? Why 
should they not become the standard devotions of all 
Catholics, whether alone or in their families ? . . . We 
strongly suspect that many who will join the Church 
will hail with joy every such return, however imperfect, 
to the discipline and practice of the ancient Church ; 
they will warm to us the more in proportion to our zeal 
for the restoration of its discipline."* 

* ' Essays on Various Subjects,' by his Eminence Cardinal Wise- 
man, i., pp. 386, 395, 396. 


In the Boman Church, therefore, the office of Prime, 
and with it the Athanasian Creed, may be restored to 
the use of the laity. But if the Church of England 
deliberately gives up the Athanasian Creed, its use can 
never again be restored, and English theology will 
receive a blow from which it may never recover. Look 
at what has been passing within the last few days on the 
other side of the English Channel. The Protestants of 
France, after an interval of two centuries, have met in 
synod and surveyed their theological position. And 
what is the result ? They have gradually been drifting 
into open infidelity; so that, in the language of the 
intelligent and well-informed Paris correspondent of the 
* Guardian,' " the Established French Protestant Church 
sank to little more than half a million of members 
who could in any real sense of the term be called Chris- 
tians out of the forty millions of the French population 
by whom they are surrounded. And there they have 
remained ever since, without any defined rule of faith 
whatever, and having only succeeded by very small 
majorities in some of their Consistories — ^as here in Paris, 
for instance — in ejecting from their pulpits awowed 
infidels of the Benan School."* 

Such is the consequence of keeping Creeds as ^ histo- 
rical monuments." Two centuries ago the Athanasian 
Creed was a living expression of Faith both among the 
Calvinists of France and Switzerland and among the 

♦ See • Guardian,' June 19, 1872. . 


■ ■ 11 ■■»■■■■ ^ ■ ■■■■■ _ I ■ _ ^ ■ ,_■ _■■ .1 - I , I ^ ■ ■ 

Latherans of Grermany. Bat its use, from being obliga- 
torjr, became optional, and that soon d^enerated into 
general disasa We have seen the result to which this 
has led in France. In Switzerland the collapse of the 
Christian Faith has long been apparent ; and the Pnis- 
sian correspondent of ' The Times' has lately painted in 
melancholy colours the state of " Religions Thought in 

^^Who that knows modem Germany will call it a 
Christian land, either in the sense Rome gives to the 
term or in the meaning Luther attaches to it ? . • . The 
Augsburg Confession, to maintain which Germany in the 
Thirty Years' War suffered herself to be cut to pieces by 
Austria and Austria's allies, has long ceased to be the 
authority it was ; and, instead of the adamantine founda- 
tion of public belief, is now-a-days a mere ornamental 
decoration appended to the intellectual fixdv& of the land. 
In whatever section of society you may happen to move, 
there is the undeniable fact that the dogmatism of St 
Athanasius and the statutes of the Council of Nice* have 
entirely ceased to be a living power. Scholars have 
begun to denominate Christianity an Asiatic religion; 
and the public, proud of their vaunted European en- 
lightenment, accept the degrading name. . . . The truth 
is, that the majority of the educated, in their insidious 
march towards Rationalism, have advanced beyond 
acknowledging the necessity of any Creed. Not content 

* The author means the Athanaeian and Kicene Creeds. 


with rejecting the Bible, whose dogmas they regard as 
entirely exploded by the moral, historical, and scientific 
criticism of the day, they have begun to doubt whether 
any teaching on transcendental subjects can be required 
to promote virtue. . . . There is a strong and growing 
impression that the Christian Creed has become too 
obsolete for anyone to take the trouble of warring 
against it."* 

Let the Church of England upset the present ^iatviA 
of the Athanasian Creed — a staiv/^ which we have 
inherited uninterruptedly from the Reformation — and 
she will take the first downward step on the declivity 
which leads to infidelity. Not till the Creed has been 
abolished shall we know what we owe to it, not only 
as individuals, but as a nation. The public recitation 
of it helps almost more than anything else, I believe, 
to resist that continual tendency to shed portions of its 
intrinsic meaning, on which Mr. Mill, in a passage 
already quoted, has animadverted as common to all 
ancient formulas. Many a man, who declaims fiercely 
against it, owes to the swing of its rhythmical clauses 
his impression of the cardinal facts of Christianity, and 
especially his vivid image of that unique character in 
history, Jesus of Nazareth, the Eternal Son of God.t 
And as for those who believe that this is one of those 
questions which test to the quick the vitality of a 

* 'Religious Thought in Germany.' By *The Times' Corre- 
spondent at Berlin, pp. 26-28. f See Appendix, Note D. 


Church, there is no sacrifice which they will think too 

great to make in defence of what is to them dearer 

than anything this world can offer in exchange. I, 

for one, will never consent to recite the Athanasian 

Greed as a matter of individual option; and if the 

Church of England should commit herself to a policy so 

cowardlv and so fatal, I should feel that I had no choice 

but to retire from her service. I know well, no one 

knows better, that this resolution of mine would matter 

to nobody in the world except myself. But there are 

others of whom this cannot be said. The Church of 

England cannot afford a secession from the Ministry 

led by such men as Dr. Pusey and Dr. Liddon. And it 

is probable that relinquishment of ministerial duties 

would not be confined to the school represented by 

those names. The Bishop of Lincoln has uttered some 

ominous hints ; and even so moderate a man as Dean 

Goulbum has declared publicly that any interference 

with the Creed " would lead him seriously to reconsider 

his own position as an ordained minister of the 

Church."* So that the assailants of the Creed may 

find, when too late, that they have "made a solitude 

and called it peace." 

But I have better hope of the future of the Church 
of England, and of the wisdom of her rulers; and I 
cannot conclude this letter more appropriately than by 
calling attention to the remarkable words of Count 

* * Reasons for neither Mutilating nor Muffling the Athanasian 
Creed.' By Edward Goulbum, D.D., Dean of Norwich, p. 37. 


de Maistre, with your own published comment upon 
them twenty-two years ago : — 

" Si jamais les Chretiens se rapprochent, comme tout 
les y invite, il semble que la motion doit partir de 
ri^glise d'Angleterre. Le Presbyt^rianisme fut une 
CBuvre Fran^aise, et par consequent une oeuvre exager^e. 
Nous sommes trop ^loign^ des sectateurs d'un culte 
trop pen substantiel: il n'y a pas moyen de nous 
entendre, mais I'^glise Anglicane, qui nous touche 
d'une main, touche de Tautre ceux que nous ne pouvons 
toucher ; et quoique, sous un certain point de vue, elle 
soit en butte aux coups des deux partis, et qu'elle pr6- 
sente le spectacle un peu ridicule d'un r6volt6 qui prfeche 
I'obeissance, cependant elle est tres precieuse sous autres 
aspects, et peut-dtre, consid6r6e comme un de ces inter- 
m^es chimiques, oapables de rapprocher des ^l^mens 
inassociables de leur nature." 

On this striking testimony to the providential position 
of the English Church from the pen of a foreigner, and 
also an Ultramontane of the Ultramontanes, you com- 
ment as follows : — 

" It is nearly sixty years since thus a stranger and an 
alien, a stickler to the extremest point for the preroga- 
tives of his Church, and nursed in every prepossession 
against purs, nevertheless turning his eye across the 
Channel, though he could then only see her in the 
lethargy of her organization, and the dull twilight of 
her learning, could nevertheless discern that there was 
a special work written of God for her in heaven, and 

p 2 



that she was very precious to the Christian world. 
Oh ! how serious a rebuke to those who, not strangers, 
but suckled at her breast, not two generations back, 
but the witnesses now of her true and deep repentauQe, 
and of her reviving zeal and love, yet (under whatever 
provocation) have written concerning her even as men 
might write that were hired to make a case against her, 
and by an adverse instinct in the selection of evidence, 
and a severity of construction, such as no history of the 
deeds of man can bear, have often in these last years put 
her to an open shame I But what a word of hope and 
encouragement to every one who, as convinced in his 
heart of the glory of her providential mission, shall 
unshrinkingly devote himself to defending within her 
borders the full and whole doctrine of the Cross, with 
that mystic symbol now as ever gleaming down on him 
from heaven, now as ever showing forth its inscription : 
in hoc dgno vineesr* 

It is in the spirit of these eloquent words that I offer 
this humble contribution to the defence of the Athanasian 
Creed ; and thanking you very sincerely for allowing me 
to address my remarks to you, I beg to subscribe myself, 
with feelings of unfeigned respect, 

Yours very faithfully, 


12, Chester Tebrace, Eaton Square, 
June 15th, 1872, 

* c 

Remarks on the Royal Supremacy,' pp. 87-88. 



Note A (p. 25). 

Thb following is the passage in Bishop Cotton's Charge 
referred to on p. 25 : — 

" But, as in the case of the Baptismal Service, so in that of 
the Athanasian Creed, there is much to be learned from 
. coming to India. One who resides in the midst of a heathen 
nation begins to realize the state of things in which the 
Apostles wrote those passages of which the Baptismal Service 
IS a faithful echo, and in which the Primitive Bishops and 
Fathers of the Church drew up their confessions of faith. 
For the errors rebuked in the Athanasian Creed resulted 
from tendencies common to the human mind everywhere, and 
especially prevalent in this country. We cannot too strongly 
impress on those who recoil from its definitions and distinc- 
tions that its object was not to limit but to widen the pale of 
the Church, which various heretical sects were attempting 
to contract It contains no theory of the Divine nature, but 
contradicts certain false opinions about it, and states the 
revealed truths of the Trinity and Incarnation without any 
attempt to explain them. It especially censures four errors : 
— The heresy of Arius, who * divided the substance ' of the 
Godhead by teaching that the Father was the supreme and 
the Son an inferior Deity; of Sabellius, who 'confounded 
the Persons ' by supposing that the Father took our nature 
as the Man Christ Jesus, and after dying for our salvation 
operates on our hearts as the Holy Ghost ; of Nestorius, who 
so completely separated our Lord's Divinity and humanity as 


to teach that he is not one but two Christs ; and of Apollinaris, 
who asserted that He was not perfect Man, with a reasonable 
(or rational) sonl, but a Being, in whom the Godhead supplied 
the place of the human intellect. Now these four tendencies 
correspond to four forms of error which are in full activity 
among us here. The chief cause of the horror with which 
Arianism was regarded by the Fathers of NicsBa was that it 
led directly back to the polytheism from which Constantine 
had just delivered the Boman Empire! Had it prevailed, 
Christianity would have been degraded into the worship 
of three Gods, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, 
with the Father as the Lord and Buler of the other two. 
Arianism, therefore, so far as it was polytheistic, resembled 
the religion of the common people of this country. The 
theory of Sabellius, fatal to the truths of Christ's Mediation 
and Atonement, arose from that bare and unsympathizing 
monotheism which has since been erected by Mahomet into 
a rival and hindrance to the Gospel. The foremost of 
Indian sects in public spirit and intelligence inherit from 
their Persian ancestors the doctrine of two co-ordinate 
and independent principles, Ormuzd and Ahriman, Grood 
and Evil, with the first of which Spirit, and with the 
other Matter, is immediately connected. From a tendency 
to this very same error, Nestorius separated altogether 
Christ's Divine from His human nature, although such a 
view leads to the denial that this world is redeemed from 
evil, and that man's body, as well as his soul and spirit, 
must be consecrated to Grod's service. The creed of many 
among the educated classes of India, and of not a few, I 
fear, in Europe, is the theory of pantheism, which quenches 
in us the love of God, since we cannot feel affection for One 
who has no personal attributes, and which is at least fatal to 
morality, by teaching that evil is only an inferior stage of 


^ood, 'good in the making/ as some one has expressed it, 
HO that the two are in fact identical, each having alike its 
origin in God. From pantheistic sympathies Apollinaris, 
the precursor of Eutyches, was led to merge Christ's Man- 
hood in His Godhead, and to deny that He had a human 
soul. Now if we remember that all those heresies sprang 
from tendencies which have given birth to separate religions 
of widely extended influence, in the midst of which we in 
India are living, we may surely pause before we expunge 
from the records of our Church an ancient protest against 
the application of these tendencies to Christianity, since, 
whenever the educated classes of this country embrace the 
Gospel, there will be need of watchfulness, lest its simplicity 
bo perverted by the revival of errors which all had their 
origin in Eastern philosophy!" 

Note B (see p. 143). 

" We 'are by nature the Sons of Adam. When God created 
Adam He created us ; and as many as are descended from 
Adam have in themselves the root out of which they spring. 
The sons of God we neither are all, nor any one of us, other- 
wise than only by grace and favour. The sons of Gk)d have 
Gbd's own natural Son as a Second Adam from heaven, 
whose race and progeny they are by spiritual and heavenly 
birth. God therefore being eternally His Son, He must 
needs eternally in Him have loved and preferred before 
all others them which are spiritually sithence descended 
and sprung out of Him. . . . Our being in Christ by eternal 
foreknowledge saveth us not without our actual and real 
adoption into the fellowship of His Saints in this present 
world. For in Him we are, by actual incorporation into 
that Society which hath Him for their Head; and doth 


make together with Him one body (He and they in that re- 
spect having one name), for which cause, by virtue of this 
mystical conjunction, we are of Him, and in Him, even as 
though our very flesh and bones should be made continuate 
with His. . . . The Church is in Christ as Eve was in 
Adam. Yea, by grace, we are every of us in Christ, and in 
His Church, as by nature we were in those our first parents. 
God made Eve of the rib of Adam; and His Church He 
frameth out of the very flesh, the very wounded and bleeding 
side of the Son of Man. His Body crucified and His Blood 
shed for the life of the world are the True Elements of that 
heavenly Being which maketh us such as Himself is of whom 
we come. For which cause the words of Adam may be fitly 
the words of Christ concerning His Church, * Flesh of My 
flesh, and bone of My bones ;' a true native extract out of 
My own Body. So that in Him, even according to His Man- 
hood, we according to our heavenly being are as branches in 
that root out of which they grow. To airthings He is life, and 
to men light, as the Son of God ; to the Church both life and 
light eternal by being made the Son of Man for us,, and by 
being in us a Saviour, whether we respect Him as God or as 
Man. Adam is in us as an original cause of our nature, and 
of that corruption of nature which causeth death, Christ as 
the original cause of restoration to life. The person of Adam 
is not us, but his nature, and the corruption of his nature 
derived into all men by propagation ; Christ having Adam's 
nature as we have, but incorrupt, deriveth not nature but 
incorruption, and that immediately from His own Person, 
with all that belong unto Him. As therefore we are really 
partakers of the body of sin and death, received from Adam, 
so except we be truly partakers of Christ, and as really 
possessed of His Spirit, all we speak of eternal life is but 
a dream. That which quickeneth us is the Spirit of the 


Second Adam, avkd His Fleah that wherewith He quickeneth. 
That which in Him made our nature incorrupt was the union 
of His Deity with our nature. And in that respect the 
sentence of death and condemnation, which only taketh hold 
npon sinful flesh, could no way possibly extend unto Him. 
. . . These things St. Cyril duly considering reproyeth their 
speeches which taught that only the Deity of Christ is the 
Vine whereupon we by Faith do depend as branches, and 
that neither His flesh nor our bodies are comprised in this 
resemblance. For doth any man dovht hut that even from the 
flesh of Christ our very bodies do receive that life which shall 
make them glorious at the latter day, and for which they are 
already accotmted parts of His blessed Body? Our con- 
temptible bodies could never live the life they shall live, 
were it not that here they are joined with His Body, which 
is incorruptible, and that His is in ours as a cause of im- 
mortality, a cause by removing through the death and merit 
of His own flesh that which hindered the life of ours. Christ 
is therefore, both as Ood and as man, that true Vine whereof we 
both spiritually and corporally are branches. ... It greatly 
ofiEendeth that some, when they labour to show the use of the 
Holy Sacraments, assign unto them no end but only to teach 
the mind, by other senses, that which the Word doth teach 
by hearing. Whereupon how easily neglect and careless 
regard of so heavenly mysteries may follow we see in part 
by some experience had of those men with whom that 
opinion is most strong. For where the word of God may 
be heard, which teacheth with much more expedition any- 
thing we have to learn, if all the benefits we reap by 
Sacraments be instruction, they which at all times have 
opportunity of using the better means to that purpose, will 
surely hold the worse in less estimation. And unto infants 
which are not capable of instruction who would not think it 


a mere superfluity that any Saorameiit is administered, if to 
administer the Sacraments be but to teach receivers what God 
doth for them ? There is of Sacraments therefore undoubtedly 
some other more excellent and heavenly use. . . . That saving 
grace which Christ originally is or hath for the general good 
of His whole Church, by Sacraments He severally deriveth 
into every member thereof. Sacraments seem as the instru- 
ments of Qod to that end and purpose, moral instruments, 
the use whereof is in our hands, the effect in His. . . . We 
receive Christ Jesus in Baptism once as the first beginner, 
in the Eucharist often as being by continued degrees the 
finisher of our life. By Baptism therefore we receive Christ 
Jesus, and from Him that saving grace which is proper unto 
Baptism. By the other Sacrament we receive Him also, 
imparting therein Himself ^ and that grace which the Eucharist 
properly bestoweth. . . . The grace which we have by the 
Holy Eucharist doth not begin but continue life. No man 
therefore receiveth this Sacrament before Baptism, because 
no dead thing is capable of nourishment. That which groweth 
must of necessity first live. If our bodies did not daily 
waste, food to restore them were a thing superfluous. And 
it may be that the grace of Baptism would serve to eternal 
life were it not that the state of our spiritual being is daily 
so much hindered and impaired after Baptism. . . . Life 
being therefore proposed unto all men as their end, they 
which by Baptism have laid the foundation and attained the 
first beginning of a new life have here their nourishment and 
food presented for continuance of life in them. Such as will 
live the life of Christ must eat the Flesh and drink the Blood 
of the Son of Man, because this is a part of that diet which 
if we want we cannot live. . . . Our souls and bodies 
quickened to eternal life are effects the cause whereof is the 
Person of Christ; His Body and Blood are the true well- 


spring out of which this life floweth. So that His Body and 
Blood ore in that very subject whereunto they minister life ; 
not only by effect or operation, even as the influence of the 
heavens is in plants, beasts, men, and in everything which 
they quicken ; but also by a far more Divine and mystical 
kind of union, which maketh us one with Him, even as He 
and the Father are one." — (^Ecclesiastical Polity,' v. Ivi., Ivii., 

It is true that Hooker goes on to say that "the Eeal 
Presence of Christ's Most Blessed Body and Blood is not 
therefore to be sought for in the Sacrament, but in the worthy 
receiver of the Sacrament." But ho adds that *' these Holy 
mysteries . . . impart to us, even in true and real, though 
mystical, manner, the very Person of our Lord Himself, whole, 
perfect, and entire,^' This surely is inconsistent with anything 
short of an objective Presence — a Presence, that is, which is 
independent of man, and is imparted to him through the 
external agency of the Sacrament. Evidently what Hooker 
was anxious to guard against was the notion that the Sacra- 
ment could benefit men as a charm, without its hidden power 
coming in contact with their souls through participation. 
The Presence is there, in the Sacrament, but only the 
worthy communicant can really partake of it. 

Note C (p. 160). 

I was much gratified to find the view I have taken of the 
Sacramental principle confirmed after my remarks were in the 
press by one of those thoughtful articles which are such a 
marked feature of the * Spectator.' Coming from so independent 
a source, the article is worth quoting ; and here it is : — 

....'* And whatever ought in point of fact to be sur^ 
prising or otherwise, certainly no one can have the smallest 


acquaintance with the teaching of Cbrist and Uis Apostles 
without seeing that thoughts of this kind lay at the very 
basis of their doctrine, that in that teaching the material 
world is often treated as spiritual, and the spiritual world as 
material ; that spiritual food is spoken of as Bread, and 
physical Bread is treated as the means of spiritual health ; 
that water is treated as the instrument of regeneration, and 
spiritual teaching is called living water ; that sometimes the 
physical touch is regarded as healing the spirit, and some- 
times the spiritual touch as healing the body ; in short, that 
Christ discerned a most intimate alliance between physical 
and spiritual agencies, in virtue of which the physical were 
often spiritual and the spiritual often physical ; that he 
claimed the power to make the most ordinary constituents of 
the human body channels of spiritual life; and the most 
marvellous spiritual teachings equivalents for ordinary rest 
and nutrition. He recognized not only the working of the 
spirit on the flesh, but of the flesh on the spirit, and promised 
not only spiritual aid to overcome physical passions, but 
physical aid to overcome unspiritual passions. And in so 
doing, Christ did but follow the track of the natural life of 
man. What is more common than to And pure air restoring 
health to the spirit as well as pure social influences restoring 
health to the body? Does not the beauty of mountain 
scenery give a new zest to the very food we eat, and make it 
go further in nourishing the bodily tissues ? Does not pure 
food give a new activity to the mind, and make it keener even 
in the life of prayer and of duty ? 

" But most men will admit at once that the reciprocal action 
of the spiritual on the material and of the material on the 
spiritual is the most certain and, perhaps some will say, the 
least mysterious of human phenomena, since if Mind creates 
matter, all material forces are but mental energies in dis- 


gnise ; and if Matter constitntes mind, mental energies are 
but material forces in disguise. In such apparently recipro- 
cal influences of material and spiritual agencies, then, it will 
be said, there is not the vestige of the alleged Sacramental 
principle, which is not supposed to consist in the natural 
influence of the material on the spiritual, but in the super- 
natural transformation of material agencies which, while 
leaving them to act in their old material way, yet infuses 
them with a new life that not only affects the mind directly, 
but affects it also by purifying or refining the bodily organs. 
What rationalists deny is not the effect of material agencies in 
stimulating the spirit, — which they would of course steadily 
assert, — nor the effect of spiritual agencies in exciting the 
spirit, — but the possibility that by any spiritual process 
whatever a material agency could have its material effects so 
modified as to make the body a more pure and perfect organ 
of the spirit, in other words, to make it respond more easily 
to the government of the higher Christian impulses. They 
would admit that the habit of self-control would make the 
body a more manageable organ for the spirit ; and again, that 
healthy physical habits would make it a more efficient in- 
strument of every kind ; but they would deny that the parti- 
cles of food could be made to have any different effect, as 
particles of food, through any conceivable religious rite which 
might be performed, though they might concede that any 
high excitement of the nerves would probably disturb the 
bodily functions, and make their action different^ — ^probably 
not healthier, — than it otherwise would be. 

But is not that mere attempt to state the case accurately, 
as it is conceived by the rationalists, full of evidence that it 
is exceedingly difficult so to state it as to exclude all room 
for the proper Sacramental principle ? They have to admit 
frankly that the same material substances act in most different 


fashions nnder different spiritual conditions ;— only they 
would maintain that the changed spiritual conditions act 
through the nervous system of the recipient, and not through 
any transformation of the elements which pass into the body. 
Admitted, but is not this in its turn a distinction as refined 
and intangible as almost any theological distinction ? Could 
any physiologist distinguish between an effect produced on 
the assimilation of food by the higher tension of the nerres 
due to spiritual feeling, and an effect produced by the modifi- 
cation of the substance received ? An element once in the 
body, the discrimination between what is due to its action on 
the bodily organs and what is due to the action of the bodily 
organs on it, is surely almost inapprehensible, and quite 
evanescent? Supposing the body be really made a finer 
organ for the spirit by any internal change, suppose the in- 
flammability of evil passions were diminished, and the im- 
pressibility to spiritual impulses were increased, is it not 
almost as childish and as unverifiable a refinement as any of 
which theologians have ever been guilty, to maintain that 
you can distinguish between what is due to the physical 
action of the food on the body, and what is due to the nervous 
action of the spirit or spirits on the food ? No doubt it may 
be very fairly said that if anything of the Sacramental in- 
fluence supposed to be exerted were really due to the bread 
and wine received, it would be only reasonable to assume that 
that influence would depend, as it does in the case of the air 
breathed in beautiful scenery for example (which doubtless 
has a more salutary effect on the body than equally good air 
breathed in iminteresting scenery), in great measure on the 
physical amofwni so received, whereas, as everybody knows, 
most of the believers in the Sacramental principle regard the 
minutest portions of the sacred elements as amply adequate 
to convey the new stream of spiritual life, and hold, there- 


fore» that even though no material substanoe were taken at 
all, if the recipient believed that he had received the Bymbols 
of Diyine life, the rite would have precisely the same physi- 
cal and spiritual effect upon him as if he had really received 
them. Nor can we, of course, doubt that this is true. But 
the question which suggests itself is this, — whether, supposing 
it to be true, as of course it is, that it is not the elements 
received which effect anything, but only the divine influence 
of which they are such vivid symbolic channels, it may not 
yet be quite as much a physical as a spiritual change through 
which that divine influence operates. If beauty both of sight 
and sound acts, as it does, on the body by modulating the 
organs of seuse, why may not the highest divine life mould 
the body directly, as well as through the slow influence of 
the mind upon it? The real essence of the Sacramental 
principle is, we imagine, contained in the assumption that 
the divine life enters us by physical as well as by spiritual 
channels ; and for this purpose, of course, it matters not at 
all whether the Sacred Elements be but living symbols to our 
minds of that belief, or the actual channels of it. There 
seems to us, at all events, no sort of superstition in holding 
that, — independently of course of all sacredotal conditions,* — 
the rite which treats Christ's Body as the bread of life, does 
exert a very strange and spiritually-renovating influence on 
the human body, — does make the body, that is, a more perfect 
and delicate instrument of the human spirit. It is quite 
certain, at all events, that no Church, in which the Sacra- 
mental principle, — the principle that the spirit is spiritualized 
through the divine influence acting on the body as well as 
on the spirit, — has been deficient, has ever avoided at once 
the dangers of too exciting and fanatical a doctrine, of con- 
scions ^ conversion," and also the danger of too cold a re- 
* 1 cannot see the force of this reservation. 


liance on '* good works." The Sacramental principle and it 
alone has bronght home to religions people the many different 
avennes, involuntary and imconscions as well as yolantaiy 
and conscious, physical as well as spiritual, by which the 
Spirit of Grod must enter man, if the character is to be really 
pervaded with divine influence. That principle alone goardfi 
adequately against morbid Calvinist breedings over the evi- 
dence of special grace, and cold Pelagian reliance on moral 
goodness. That exaltation of. the common things of nature, 
which results from the teaching that divine life enters through 
the daily bread into the very tissues of the body, no less 
than through the Spirit of God into the conscience, prevents 
the relative overrating of the spiritual life as such, besides 
exerting a imique influence on the affections by the strictly 
personal relation to Christ into which it brings us." — (See 
' Spectator,' June 16, 1872.) 

Note D (p. 209). 

The following eloquent passage is valuable, coming as it 
does, from an independent thinker like Mr. Groldwin Smith: — 

'' There are many peculiarities arising out of personal and 
historical circumstances, which are incident to the best 
human characters, and ^^ch would prevent any one of them 
from being universal or final as a type. But the Type set up 
in the Gospels as the Christian Type seems to have escaped 
all these peculiarities, and to stand out in unapproached purity 
as well as in unapproached perfection of moral excellence. 

*' The good moral characters which we see among men fall, 
speaking broadly, into two general classes ; those which ex- 
cite our reverence and those which excite our love. These 
two classes are essentially identical, since the object of our 
reverence is that elevation above selfish objects, that dignity, 


nugesty, nobleness, appearance of moral strength which is 
produced by a disregard of selfish objects in comparison of 
those which are of a less selfish and therefore of a grander 
kind. But though essentially identical, they form, as it 
were, two hemispheres in the actual world of moral excel- 
lence; the noble and the amiable, or, in the language of 
moral taste, the grand and the beautiful. Being, however, 
essentially identical, they constantly tend to fusion in the 
human characters which are nearest to perfection, though, no 
human character being perfect, they are never actually fused. 
Now, if the type proposed in the Qospels for our imitation 
were characteristically noble or characteristically amiable, 
characteristically grand or characteristically beautiful, it 
might have great moral attractions, but it would not be uni- 
versal or finaL It would belong to one peculiar hemisphere 
of character, and even though man might not yet actually 
have transcended it, the ideal would lie beyond it ; it would 
not remain for ever the mark and goal of our moral progress. 
But the fSftct is, it is neither characteristically noble and grand, 
nor characteristically amiable and beautiful ; but both in an 
equal degree, perfectly and indistinguishably, the fusion of 
the two classes of qualities being complete, so that the 
mental eye, though it be, strained to aching, cannot discern 
whether that on which it gazes be more the object of rever- 
ence or of love. 

^ There are differences again between the male and female 
character, under which, nevertheless, we divine that there 
lies a real identity, and a consequent tendency to fusion in 
the ultimate ideal. Had the Gospel type of character been 
stamped with the peculiar marks of either sex, we should have 
felt that there was an ideal free from those peculiarities 
beyond it. But this is not the case. It exhibits, indeed, 
the peculiarly male virtue of courage in the highest degree, 



and in the fonn in which it is mofit clear of mere animal im- 
petuosity and most evidently a virtue ; but this form is the 
one common to both sexes, as the annals of martyrdom prove. 
The Boman Catholics have attempted to consecrate a fenflale 
type, that of the Virgin, by the side of that which they take 
to be characteristically male. But the result obviously is a 
mutilation of the original type, which really contained all 
that the other is supposed to supply ; and the creation of a 
second type which has nothing distinctive, but is in its attri* 
butes, as well as in its history, merely a pale and partial 
reflection of the first. 

" There is an equally notable absence of any of the pecu- 
liarities which attend particular callings and modes of life, 
and which, though so inevitable under the circumstances of 
human society that we have learnt to think them beauties, 
would disqualify a Character for being universal and the 
ideal. The Life depicted in the Gospel is one of pure benefi- 
cence, disengaged from all peculiar social circumstances, yet 
adapted to all. In vain would the Boman Catholic priest 
point to it as an example of a state like his own ; the circum- 
stances of Christ's life and mission repel any inferences of 
the kind. 

" The Christian Type of Character, if it was constructed 
by human intellect, was constructed at the confluence of 
three races, the Jewish, the Greek, and the Boman, each of 
which had strong national peculiarities of its own. A single 
touch, a single taint of any one of those peculiarities, and the 
character would have been national, not universal ; transient, 
not eternal ; it might have been the highest character in his- 
tory, but it would have been disqualified for being the ideal. 
Supposing it to have been human, whether it were the effort 
of a real man to attain moral excellence, or a moral imagina- 
tion of the writers of the Gospels, the chances, surely, were 


infinite against its escaping any tinctnre of the fuiaticism, 
formalism, and exclusiyeness of the Jew, of the political pride 
of the Boman, of the intellectual pride of the Greek. Tet it 
has entirely escaped them all. 

'* Historical circnmstances affect character sometimes 
directly, sometimes by way of reaction. The formalism of 
the Pharisees might have been expected to drive any cha- 
racter with which it was brought into collision into the oppo- 
site extreme of laxity ; yet no such effect can be discerned. 
Antinomianism is clearly a deflection from the Christian 
pattern, and the o£&pring of a subsequent age. 

" The political circumstances of Judea, as a coimtry suffer- 
ing from the oppression of foreign conquerors, were calculated 
to produce in the oppressed Jews either insurrectionary 
violence (which was constantly breaking out) or the dull 
apathy of Oriental submission. But the Life which is the 
example of Christians escaped both these natural impressions. 
It was an active and decisive attack on the evils of the age ; 
but the attack was directed not against political tyranny ^or 
its agents, but against the moral corruption which was its 

" There are certain qualities which are not virtues in them- 
selves, but are made virtues by time and circumstance, and 
with their times and circumstances pass away; yet, while 
they last, are often naturally and almost necessarily esteemed 
above those virtues which are most real and universal. These 
feu^titious virtues are the offspring for the most part of early 
states of society, and the attendant narrowness of moral 
vision. Such was headlong valour among the Northmen, 
Such was, and is, punctilious hospitality among the tribes of 
the Desert Such was the fuiatical patriotism of the an- 
cients, which remained a virtue, while the nation remained 
the largest sphere of moral ^sympathy known to man, — ^his 

Q 2 


yvAssDi not haying yet embraced his kind. The taint of one 
of these factitionB and temporary yirtaes wonld, in the eye of 
historical philosophy, haye been as fatal to the perfectian 
and nniyersality of a type of character as the taint of a posi- 
tiye yice. Not only the feUow-conntrymen, bat the com- 
panions and Apostles of Christ were, by the acconnt of the 
Gospels, imbued with that Jewish patriotism, the fiinatical 
intensity of which disgusted eyen the ancient world. -They 
desired to conyert their Master into a patriot chief and to 
tnm His uniyersal mission into one for the peculiar benefit 
of His own race. Had they succeeded in doing so, eyen in 
the slightest degree, — or to take a different hypothesis, had 
those who constructed the mythical character of Christ ad- 
mitted into it the slightest tinge of a quality which they 
could hardly, without a miracle, distinguish from a real 
yirtue, — the time would haye arriyed when, the yision of man 
being enlarged, and his afifection for his country becoming 
subordinate to his affection for his kind, the Christian Type 
would haye grown antiquated, and would haye been left 
behind in the progress of history towards a higher and 
ampler ideal. But such is not the case. A just affection for 
country may indeed find its prototype in Him who wept oyer 
the impending destruction of Jerusalem, and who offered the 
Gospel first to the Jew : but His character stands clear of 
the narrow partiality which it is the tendency of adyancing 
ciyilization to discard. From exaggerated patriotism and 
from exaggerated cosmopolitanism the Christian Example is 
equally free. 

** Asceticism, again, if it has neyer been a yirtue, eyen 
under exceptional circumstances, is yery easily mistaken for 
one, and has been almost uniyersally mistaken for one in the, 
East. There are certain states of society, — such, for example 
as that which the Western monks were called upon to. cyan- 


gelize and civilize by their ezertionB, — in whioh it is diffi- 
cult to deny the osefalness and merit of an ascetic life. Bnt 
had the type of character set before us in the Gospel been 
ascetic, our social experience must have discarded it in the 
long ran ; as oar moral experience would have discarded it 
in the long ran had it been connected with those formal ob- 
servances into the consecration of which asceticism almost 
inevitably Mis. Bat the type of character set before as in 
the Gospels is not ascetic, though it is the highest exhibition 
of self-denial. Nor is it connected with formal observances, 
though, for reasons which are of universal and permanent 
validity, it provisionally condescends to the observances 
eatablished in the Jewish Church. The character of the 
Essenes, as painted by Josephus, which seems to outvie the 
Christian charaqter in purity and self-denial, is tainted both 
with asceticism and formalism, and though a lofiiy and pure 
conception, could not have been accepted by man as per- 
manent and universal. 

*' Cast your eyes over the human characters of history, and 
observe to how great an extent the most soaring and eccen- 
tric of them are the creatures of their country and their age. 
Examine the most poetic of human visions, and mark how 
closely they are connected, either by way of direct emanation 
or of reaction, with the political and social circumstances 
amidst which they were conceived; how manifestly the 
Utopia of Plato is an emanation from the Spartan com- 
monwealth, how manifestly the Utopia of Bousseau is a re- 
action against the artificial society of Paris. What likelihood, 
then, was there that the imagination of a peasant of Gralilee 
would spring at a bound beyond place and time, and create a 
tyx>e of character perfectly distinct in its personality, yet 
entirely free from all that entered into the special per- 
sonalities of the age ; a type which satisfies us as entirely as 


it satisfied him, and which, as fieff as we can see or imagine, 
will satisfy all men to the end of time. 

'< The character of Mahomet, and the character which is 
represented by the name of Buddha, were no doubt great im- 
provements in their day on anything which had preceded 
them among the races out of which they arose. But the 
character of Mahomet was deeply tainted with fierce Arab 
enterprise, that of Buddha with languid Eastern resignation : 
and all progress among the nations by which these types 
were consecrated has long since come to an end. 

'^M. Comte has constructed for his sect a whimsical 
Calendar of historic characters, in imitation of the Boman 
Catholic Calendar of Saints. Each month and each day is 
given to the historic representative of some great achieve- 
ment of Humanity. Theocracy is there, represented by 
Moses, ancient poetry by Homer, ancient philosophy by Aris- 
totle, Eoman Civilization by Caesar, Feudal Civilization by 
Charlemagne, and so forth ; the ancient Saints having their 
modem counterparts, and each having a crowd of minor 
Saints belonging to the same department of historical pro- 
gress in his train. Catholicism is there, represented some- 
what strangely by St. Paul instead of St. Peter. Christianity 
is not there : neither is Christ. It cannot be asserted that a 
person circumstantially mentioned by Tacitus is less his- 
torical than Prometheus, Orpheus, and Numa, who all appear 
in this Calendar ; and the allegation that there is no Chris- 
tianity but Catholicism, and that St. Paul, not Christ, was its 
real founder, is too plainly opposed to facts to need discus- 
sion. The real reason, I apprehend, is that Christianity and 
its Author, though unquestionably historical, have no peculiar 
historical characteristics, and no limited place in history. 
And are we to believe that men whose culture was so small, 
and whose range of vision was necessarily so limited as those 


; of the first Ohristians, produced a character which a French 

atheist philosopher of the nineteenth century finds himself 

I unable to treat as human, and place, in its historical rela- 

^ tions, among the himian benefactors of the race ? Do jou 

^ imagine that it is from respect for the feelings of Christian 

^ society that M. Comte hesitates to put this name into his 

I Calendar, beside the names of Caesar and Frederic the Great ? 

The treatise in which the Calendar is given opens with an 

^ announcement that M. Comte, by a decisive proclamation, 

made at what he is pleased to style the memorable conclusion 

of his course of lectures, has inaugurated the reign of 

Humanity and put an end to the reign of God. 

" The essence of man's moral nature, clothed with a per- 
sonality so vivid and intense as to excite through all ages the 
most intense affection, yet divested of all those peculiar cha- 
racteristics, the accidents of place and time, by which human 
personalities are marked, what other notion than this can 
philosophy form of Divinity manifest on earth ? '' — (' Lectures 
on Modem History,' Lect. pp. 16-22.) 





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